Saturday, April07, 2012 approx 3:00pm. My partner and I had just finished Phsycical Grafitti and were at the base of the route packing up to leave. I was watching two guys struggle on Big Bad Wolf. The climber was just about to clip what I beleive was the fourth bolt and didn't make it. He swung down and hit the wall with one foot twisted. He immediately yelled that he broke his ankle. I assisted the belayer lower the climber to where I could reach him then positioned him to protect his bad ankle. I grabbed him and was able to hold him up with his arm around my neck. I asked if anyone had a cell phone and an off duty sheriff with search and rescue who was also packing up to leave came up. We laid the climber down and he took over. He assesed the climber for other injuries, splinted his ankle and asked if he could walk out to which he said no. He then located a good landing aea nearby and called in a helicopter. The fellow that put that route up was guiding a person in the area and was at the base of the wall as well. He did not see the accident but was convinced the climber fell onto the small sloping ledge and it was the cause fo the injury. It was not.
There are two things I took away from this rescue which may be obvious now but were not at the time. The first was to assess the total condition of the injured person. He wasn't hurt anywhere else but it would have been easy for me to overlook it. Take the extra two minutes to step back and fully assess the indivual. The second is the sheriff said several times when we were handling or moving the injured person "do not hurry". It's pretty easy to get excited and rush and end up making things worse. Take your time, moving carefully through obstacles to make sure no one sustains further injury.
I was immediately thinking of how to carry the fellow down. It would have been hard to get him to the base of the wall. Apprantly they have copters on standby over there all the time. I saw a number of them buzzing around. When the Sheriff asked if he wanted a helicopter the injured climber said he couldn't afford one but they are free. Heck, on Cat in the Hat the previous day they flew up there and got a rope unstuck for a couple of girls.
There are two things I took away from this rescue which may be obvious now but were not at the time. The first was to assess the total condition of the injured person. He wasn't hurt anywhere else but it would have been easy for me to overlook it. Take the extra two minutes to step back and fully assess the indivual.
Good observation. In the ER, we often quiz students "What's the most common missed fracture?"
The answer is: "The second fracture."
Also, distracting injuries are important in treating people with possible cervical spine injuries. Someone with a very obvious and painful ankle fracture may not report that their neck hurts, but may still have a significant c-spine injury.
So both victim and rescuers tend to focus on the most dramatic or obvious injury, which can sometimes lead to big problems.