Bash Bish Falls State Park is a popular destination in southern Berkshire County, boasting the highest single drop waterfall in Massachusetts. Abutting Bash Bish Falls state park is Taconic State Park in Copake Falls New York. Most of the scenic area, as well as the falls themselves are located in Mount Washington Massachusetts. The town of Mount Washington does not have a fire department, with fire protection and rescue services provided by the Egremont Fire Department though a mutual aid agreement.
The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team (WMTRT) was activated per request of the Egremont Fire Department for a report of a party who had fallen from a cliff into Bash Bish Falls on 28 July, 2017 at 22:05. Initial reports indicated that a 21-year-old male was witnessed falling from the top of a waterfall and had not been seen or heard from since. Egremont Fire, along with fire department resources from Copake and Hudson New York, and the Columbia County New York Sheriff’s Department dive team were on scene conducting search operations in the stream above and below the falls. First arriving WMTRT members assessed the situation and began to organize for what would turn into a protracted incident.
WWLP News was first to report that dozens of rescuers from two states located, but were unable to retrieve, the body of a 21-year-old Aiden Campion-Pratt of Ghent, N.Y.,. Rescuers began searching for him Friday night when he fell off the rock at about 7:30 p.m.
The Berkshire Eagle shortly later reported that around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, emergency personnel from ultimately 13 agencies discovered in a section of the falls that rescuers determined was too risky for bringing the young man to the surface.
CBS6Albany listed the agencies involved in the 48 hour effort as the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Columbia County, New York Sheriff’s Department, the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Department, Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office , the Pittsfield Fire Department, the Egremont Fire Department, the Southern Berkshire Ambulance squad, state troopers assigned to the Lee barracks, the New York State Police, the Copake, New York Fire Department, the Columbia County, New York Fire Coordinator, the Berkshire County Fire Coordinator and Fastracs Excavating of Red Hook, New York.
The Times Union noted that rescuers began searching for his body Friday evening and located him about 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
Condolences from the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue team go out to Aiden’s family and friends.
Training with torches and confined space rescue in an elevator shaft
Watch three technical rescue teams negotiate an obstacle course at the Structural Collapse Technician (SCT) program taught by Spec Rescue at Westover ARB in Chicopee. In this segment, the teams move a large heavy concrete block using hand tools, ropes, lumber and mechanical advantage systems. It took just over an hour to complete the entire course.
For eight straight days in October, 3 of the Massachusetts technical rescue teams participated in a Structural Collapse Technician course taught be Spec Rescue at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. This high level technician course meets and exceeds the NFPA 1670 and 1006 standards, and is based on the exact course outline of the FEMA US&R course taught to the national task forces. This is THE course for the serious rescue technician. At the conclusion of this course the student are capable of hazard recognition, equipment use, and techniques necessary to operate safely and effectively at structural collapse incidents involving the collapse or failure of concrete tilt-up, reinforced concrete, and steel construction. They learned the process for search operations intended to locate victims trapped inside and beneath collapse debris as well as procedures for accessing and extricating victims trapped beneath collapse debris. The course was a combination of hands on activities, field work, lectures, case studies and group work. The course requires 8 days, 80 hours total.
Check out the Western Mass Technical Rescue Team practice slope evacuation at the historic Knightville Dam in Huntington (3:23). For best experience, click the lower right icon to view in fullscreen mode.