By Nazih Hazime, Fire Chief
Verde Valley Fire District
Cottonwood AZ (February 7, 2017) – The Verde Valley Fire District (VVFD) recently partnered with Jerome Fire Department, Jerome Police Department, Verde Valley Ambulance Company, and Copper Canyon Fire and Medical Authority in a joint training exercise. This training included high angle rope rescue in the Sycamore Canyon. Even though this location falls within the boundaries of VVFD, auto and mutual aid from neighboring agencies would have been required if this were a real incident.
The goal was to simulate an injured person at the bottom of the Canyon who needed to be rescued. This required coordinating rescue personnel at the top and bottom of the canyon. Once the ropes and multiple other types of rigging equipment was in place and secured, we lifted the patient and attendant to the top of the canyon to complete the rescue operation.
This rescue operation was flawless, as it was directed and led by two instructors, Chief Allen Muma, Jerome Police Department, and Engineer Matt Poe, VVFD.
The rescue was a 400 foot drop off a cliff. This type of rescue operation was low frequency/high risk and the ultimate goal was to build and challenge our proficiency and competency level. The professionalism of the agencies working together created a positive outcome for the patient.
Going forward we plan to identify additional challenging areas across the Verde Valley and continue to train together in preparation for the next real emergency that requires technical operations.
It is reassuring to know we have resources to manage these types of incidents. However, we would prefer people use extreme caution when navigating through these rough terrains. Preventative measures are the best defense against accidents, and situation awareness is always being aware of your surroundings.
Remember, putting yourself at risk is putting the rescuers at risk. Have fun and be safe.