WMTRT set up a drill in the basement of Northampton High School team members to practice accessing and extricating simulated injured workers. Supplied air, closed communications, gas meters and the team's new accountability system were all put to the test.
From the Greenfield Recorder- December 27, 2017
HEATH — A young woman was taken to the hospital for a leg injury and possible hypothermia after the SUV she was driving veered off the road landing on its side, about 100 feet down an embankment on West Branch Road late Wednesday morning. About two dozen firefighters and paramedics were needed to rescue the woman after an alert passerby spotted tire tracks going off the road just before it turns into Adamsville Road.
A passerby discovered the vehicle, on its side, and found the trapped driver was conscious. The SUV had knocked down a narrow tree on its way down the embankment.
Colrain and Heath fire departments arrived, with Greenfield and Turners Falls to follow. Greenfield’s chief, Robert Strahan, led operations at the scene, while Turners Falls Fire Chief John Zellmann helped to lead the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team.
Bystanders told emergency personnel that the driver said she went off the road around 11 a.m. It was about two hours later that she was taken into the ambulance.
“This was a very difficult response,” Strahan said. “The roads are snowy and ice-covered, but the firefighters from Colrain and Heath did a wonderful job.”
Strahan also pointed to the efforts of the rescue team, which included several of its Franklin County members along with a few from Hampshire County. Emergency personnel first used a hydraulic extrication tool to get the woman, who was not identified, out of the vehicle. With ropes and pulleys, they were able to get her up onto the road in about an hour. Paramedics treated her for possible hypothermia.
Zellman said the operation went “rather smooth,” and it’s operations like these that were the reason emergency workers founded the now 80-person rescue team in 2014.
Massachusetts State Police is in charge of the formal investigation. Trooper Josh Lemay said speeding may have contributed to the crash.
A towing company from Erving was to lift the vehicle out of the embankment by mid to late afternoon, Zellman said.
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.
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