Girl survives 70-foot fall over cliff
Reported by Rick Weber
Through the combined efforts of the Search and Rescue Teams of Wolfe, Menifee, and Powell Counties, an 18-year-old female, B. T., who had fallen over a seventy-foot cliff was rescued. She was in critical condition when brought in to UK Medical Trauma Center, and survived. She is now on a long road to recovery. This is to the credit of the volunteers who made this rescue.
Brandy, was celebrating her eighteenth birthday with sister and friends atop a narrow ridge near Princess Arch. At about 8:30 PM on Saturday, November 8, 2008, she fell over a cliff and landed 70 feet below on the ground. As this location is within Wolfe County, the WCSAR team was paged and directed to the scene.
Rick Weber, team leader for high angle rescues in the Wolfe County section of the Red River Gorge, and fellow team member John May were first to arrive at the accident scene and quickly determined that a young lady had fallen over a sheer cliff and was lying injured at the base. Weber then called in backup from Menifee County SAR and also put in a call to Dave Ramsey, a paramedic from Powell County.
The top of the cliff was in chaos as the subjects’ friends were in hysteria and in danger of falling themselves. John, with the help of USFS Law Enforcement moved the bystanders back to safety and proceeded to extinguish a large hot campfire so that a rope rescue system could be safely built over this spot.
As there was no other apparent way to reach her, the team built an anchor system atop the cliff and had it ready to go just as Dave arrived. He rapped down and upon reaching the subject, immediately called up to have a helicopter dispatched to the Pine Ridge LZ, as her injuries appeared very serious. The patient was found to have multiple fractures, including a compound femur fracture that cause her shattered right leg to be lying up along her body and her foot up under her armpit. She also showed signs of head, neck, and back injuries. And, of course, after a 70-foot fall, there was also the strong possibility of internal injuries.
John lowered a litter to Dave and Rick led other rappelling rescuers down to assist with packaging the patient. Present were John May and Jessie Phillips from Wolfe County and Darrel Rodgers, Tiffany Risner, and Aaron Stamper from Menifee County.
It was decided the safest and most expeditious way to get the patient to the ambulance was to carry the litter down a steep embankment and along the Red River bank to a crossing point. This was a long, arduous route, it turned out, but the patient was delivered safely to the ambulance. Dave accompanied her to the rescue helicopter.
The patient is recovering from her injuries and is expected to be back close to normal within a few months.
The team members from Wolfe, Powell, and Menifee Counties performed admirably in this coordinated, multi-agency response. We have all trained together in the same program and are familiar with each other’s qualifications, equipment, and procedures. Despite our patient’s gruesome injuries, the technical part of the rescue worked efficiently and safely.
I cannot give David Ramsey enough praise for not only providing this patient with excellent emergency medical care but also in his performing under absurdly strenuous evac conditions. Several times along the trip out, David thought we had lost our patient. He was able to bring her back and keep her at least somewhat responsive.