published in the Greenfield Recorder - 3/6/2019
written by Domenic Poli
SUNDERLAND – The call about a body found on Mount Toby came to the Sunderland Police and Fire departments at 12:42 p.m. Sunday.
Two hikers found a man possibly dead in the cave trails, and first responders rushed to the scene. The body, confirmed dead upon investigation, was difficult to reach in a wedge-like area near a cliff face.
Sunderland Police Chief Erik Demetropoulos said the potentially dangerous recovery required the efforts of specially trained and equipped individuals. So a call was made to the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team at 1:04 p.m.
Comprised of roughly 60 experienced firefighters, the team serves the 101 communities of the four counties of western Massachusetts and responds to scenes that demand expertise in rescues from high angles, low angles, confined spaces, trenches and tall structures. Daryl Springman, the team’s assistant director, said he could not disclose many particular details of Sunday’s recovery but explained the training and skill sets membership to this team requires.
Mary Carey, spokeswoman for the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, said Tuesday that the deceased man recovered from Mount Toby was 63-year-old Greenfield resident Mark T. Klempner.
Springman said 12 team members responded Sunday. He explained members rappelled to a cave structure on the west side of Mount Toby to retrieve the body. Springman, who was stationed at the command post at the Mount Toby Acres apartments during the recovery, said there was about 80 feet between the rescuers’ anchor point and the victim.
“I think they did excellent,” he said Tuesday about this crew. “We had no issues with our equipment. We had no issues with our training. Our interaction with local departments is always a key thing.”
The State Police, South County EMS, Sunderland and Montague police departments, the Sunderland, Turners Falls, Montague Center and Greenfield fire departments, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation also responded to the scene.
Springman said his team, in its fifth year of operation, is called in whenever a local fire department lacks the training or sophisticated equipment necessary for a rescue or recovery.
“We’re very dynamic when it comes to our operation,” he said. “We can be a very small footprint at a scene or we can be a very large footprint, depending on whatever the local department needs.”
Springman, who helped launch the squad, said the team is called upon an average of 12 times a year, mostly for rope rescues. He explained most funding comes from the Western Region Homeland Security Council. Private donations are also accepted.
He said roughly 25 fire departments sponsor members. Compensation depends on the sponsoring department.
The team holds twice-a-month trainings that typically last six hours. Twice a year, an eight-hour, larger-scale training is held in a different high-risk area. The team does not venture out of state for rescues or recoveries.
Two drones – one from the Greenfield Police Department, the other from the fire department – were used Sunday to help increase rescuers’ safety. Demetropoulos said drones help determine if a rescuer has gotten injured and can pinpoint their location.
Springman said firefighters are often injured during confined-space rescues if they do not have the proper training or up-to-date equipment. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in 2018 reported that approximately 60 percent of confined-space fatalities are rescuers, “and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that when multiple deaths occur during a rescue, the majority of the victims are ‘would-be’ rescuers.”
“That’s a number we’re trying to fight against,” Springman said.
Reach Domenic Poli at: email@example.com or
413-772-0261, ext. 262.
By Jeanette DeForge
A massive oak tree fell on a home Monday evening, crushing an attached sun room and killing a resident inside. Pineview Circle was closed from 7:30 p.m. until about 11 p.m. while rescue crews and police removed the large tree from the home. "An investigation is currently underway on Pineview Circle where a large tree has fallen on a home resulting in the death of one individual," police said in a written statement. A couple in their 60s had just returned from vacation when the tree fell on the sun room attached to the home at 81 Pineview Circle, killing the man who was sitting inside, sources said. In total three "massive" oak trees fell in the incident. The one that crushed the sun room weighed more than 32,000 pounds, sources said. One tree could be heard falling at about 10 p.m. while rescue crews were working. The tree was removed from the home at about 10:30 and most crews left shortly after 11 p.m. Police and fire officials did not comment further on the tragedy at the scene Monday night. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family at this time," police said in the statement. The victim's name was not released.
Tuesday Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said the tree fell from the backyard through the roof and into the home. It landed directly onto the victim who was pronounced dead at the scene. He did not release the name of the victim because it is not a criminal investigation. Agawam Police and Fire were assisted by the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Crew which is made up of firefighters from a variety of different departments including Chicopee, Easthampton, Holyoke and Northampton, who are trained in difficult rescues. Interstate Towing assisted with cranes and other equipment and Top Notch Tree Service were also called to help to remove the tree from the house. The Massachusetts Department of Fire Special Operations, Columbia Gas and Eversource also assisted at the scene. The Chicopee Fire Department was also seen bringing generators and other equipment to the home. Rescue teams also set up large floodlights as it got dark. The road was closed between 41 Pineview and the intersection of Arrowood Drive but neighbors were allowed to walk down the street to their homes.
Photos below courtesy of MassLive by Mark M. Murray
Video below from WWLP on July 23, 2017
From Western Mass News, July 7, 2018
by Jessica Michalski
A male individual who fell down a gorge in Chesterfield has been rescued.
Darryl Springman of the Western Mass Regional Rescue Team tells us that a man fell thirty to forty feet off of the edge of the Chesterfield gorge.
The man had some injuries that prevented him from being able to walk.
This happened around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.
According to Amherst Fire Chief Tim Nelson, three of their own firefighters were called to the scene.
The firefighters are a part of the Western Mass Regional Rescue Team, which was sent to Chesterfield Gorge to help get this individual out.
A paramedic was lowered down to treat the individual.
Crews had to use high-angle rope systems in order to get the male safely out.
The man was then roped up to the top of the cliff and was handed off to the Highland Ambulance for treatment.
From there, he was placed in the Life Star helicopter, which then transported him to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.
Chief Nelson went on to tell us that a friend who was with him had to hike out to be able to call for help.
We're told cell phone service in that area is not good.
Chief Nelson reported that crews were able to extricate the man from the gorge around 1:45 p.m.
No immediate word on his condition was available.
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.
The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team assisted the Great Barrington Fire Department during a rescue of a 71-year-old man at Monument Mountain Reservation who could not make his way back down the mountain.
According to a news report in the Berkshire Edge, on Wednesday, July 12, shortly before noon, the Great Barrington department responded to Monument Mountain Reservation for a report of an ill elderly man at the summit. Upon arrival, first responders learned that the elderly man, who was hiking with his son, had collapsed at the top of the Squaw Peak Trail.
Great Barrington firefighters, accessed the area using a UTV. Also assisting in the effort was the Egremont Fire Department, Sheffield Fire Department, Monterey Fire Department.
The newspaper reported that crews reached the hiker within 45 minutes. The man was treated by medics and stabilized. Due to his location on the mountain, he had to be carried across boulders and lowered down steep embankments using rope systems before reaching an area of the trail accessible to UTVs, which were used to bring him down the rest of the way.
Firefighters reached the bottom of the mountain by 2:30 p.m. The man was transported by Southern Berkshire Ambulance to an area hospital in stable condition. All rescue crews cleared the scene by 3 p.m.
WMTRT assisted with three separate rescues during August of 2016 in the same area.
It was a busy August in the Berkshires for WMTRT with a total of four callouts. WMTRT assisted the Great Barrington Fire Department at the Squaw Peak area of Monument Mountain on August 29 to rescue an injured hiker, the third such response to that area in recent weeks. This most recent incident was for a hiker with an ankle injury. According to a press release issued by GBFD, the man was located on a very steep portion of the mountain and he was lowered approximately 150 feet down the slope where he was then moved to a waiting UTV.
WMTRT members assisting at the August 30 incident
Earlier in the month, WMTRT members worked with multiple agencies nearby in the recovery of a fatality. The news report detailing the August 13th, 2016 incident is below.
A third recent rescue on August 5th, 2016, involved a patient without serious injury, also on Monument Mountain. This incident was also supported by the Southern Berkshire Volunteer Volunteer Ambulance Squad and Sheffield Fire Department. The patient was transported to Berkshire Medical Center.
According to Wikipedia, Monument Mountain is a 500-acre reservation located in Great Barrington, centered on the 1,642 feet Squaw Peak. Over 20,000 visitors a year hike the trail system. Theses photos and video give a good sense of how challenging technical rescues on this steep terrain can be.
notice the steep terrain on the east side of Monument Mountain
view from the top of Squaw Peak
Finally, while it didn’t make local news outlets, WMTRT also assisted Lanesborough Fire Department on August 12th, with the rescue of a hiker who sustained an ankle injury on the March Cataract Trail near the Sperry Road campground. WMTRT members helped with evacuation of the patient approximately one half mile using the stokes basket with wheel attachment while other TRT members set up 2 short low slope systems. Mass DCR Rangers, Williamstown forest wardens were also on scene providing support. The patient was transported by Village Ambulance. The entire operation lasted more than three hours.
From the Berkshire Eagle
By Eoin Higgins:
GREAT BARRINGTON >> Emergency workers rescued a hiker on Monument Mountain who had broken her ankle late Friday morning.
The 22-year-old woman from Egremont was injured on the Devil's Pulpit section of the trail, according to Fire Chief Charles Burger. Burger said the woman was hiking on a particularly steep section of the trail at the time.
"We had to use a ropes system to get her down from the trail because it's so steep," Burger said. "Then we got her down to a four-wheeler."
The four-wheeler was provided by responding Sheffield Fire Department, which provided backup for Great Barrington.
Southern Berkshire Ambulance was on scene to transport the woman to Berkshire Medical Center. Western Massachusetts Rescue was at the trailhead to assist as well, said County Coordinator and Dalton Fire Chief Gerry Cahalan.
The emergency call came in at 11:21 a.m., Burger said. The operation was concluded by 1:45 p.m.
The hiker's dog was brought home by her parents.
Monument Mountain is located west of Route 7 in Great Barrington.
From MassLIVE - January 8, 2016:
Hampden DA's office: Missing man found dead in Chester
Chester police and a Massachusetts State Police K-9 unit found 55-year-old Harold Phelps in the Westfield River on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 7, 2016. The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team "extracted him from the water due to freezing," said Jim Leydon, spokesman for Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni.
By Conor Berry | firstname.lastname@example.org
on January 08, 2016 at 12:05 AM, updated January 08, 2016 at 12:32 AM
CHESTER — A man missing since the weekend has been found dead in the northwestern Hampden County town of Chester, according to authorities. Chester police and a Massachusetts State Police K-9 unit found 55-year-old Harold Phelps in the Westfield River on Thursday afternoon. The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team had to extract him from the water due to freezing conditions, Jim Leydon, spokesman for Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni, said Thursday night.
Police did not immediately release the official cause of death, but preliminary investigation suggests Phelps may have been walking along a train trestle when he fell into the water. Foul play is not suspected, according to authorities, who continue to investigate.
Published in the Greenfield Recorder:
By CHRIS CURTIS
Monday, September 21, 2015
A truck driver was in critical condition and firefighters and hazardous material crews worked all day to clean up a spill of acidic aluminum sulfate after a tractor-trailer tanker left the road and crashed down the Factory Hollow embankment by Fall Brook early Monday morning.
The driver, identified by police as Leo Murphy, 58, of Billerica, was in critical condition Monday night at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.
The section of highway between Adams Road in Greenfield and the Gill-Montague Bridge in Gill remained closed until about 7 a.m. today. Both lanes were reopened in time for morning commuting although work was expected to continue, which might cause delays, police said.
At 7:20 p.m. Monday, Greenfield Deputy Police Chief Mark Williams said the drained tank had been hauled up the bank onto the road.
Greenfield Police Lt. William Gordon said a passerby called 911 at 3:57 a.m. and police and firefighters found a tanker truck rolled over the embankment at the curve, the driver trapped inside.
The driver remained trapped for about two hours as firefighters worked to free him with “every piece of rescue equipment that we own,” said Greenfield Fire Chief Robert Strahan. Strahan said the tanker was on its side and heavily damaged.
The driver was alert during the extrication. He was brought back up to Route 2 with a Stokes rescue basket and ropes as a helicopter ambulance circled overhead.
Gordon said the driver’s injuries were serious and he was taken to a Worcester hospital by Life Flight helicopter once freed.
Monday night, Gordon confirmed the driver was still alive and was expected to be transferred to Mass General Hospital.
“We have multiple things going on right now, the first thing is we had a rescue to perform, ... there is an ongoing small leak of a hazardous material, aluminium sulfate, it has a high acid concentration. We have it contained but we have not stopped the leak,” Strahan said at 9:30 a.m.
Strahan said the material is dangerous if touched, but is not an inhalation danger and nobody in the area was in danger or had to be evacuated.
Aluminum sulfate is a chemical compound used chiefly in papermaking, water purification and sewage treatment. Williams said the truck, owned by Billerica-based Roy Brothers, was hauling the acid from Adams to another Massachusetts town east of Greenfield for wastewater treatment.
Some of the material made it into the nearby Fall Brook, Strahan said. Strahan said the state hazardous material team was helping with the removal of the truck and product, with environmental clean-up companies Clean Harbors Environmental Services and Western Mass. Environmental, the state Department of Environmental protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Strahan said stopping the leak and removing the tanker from the embankment alone should take 12 hours. The crash also shattered a utility pole and took down phone and power lines. Power had been restored in the area by 9 a.m., but Verizon phone and Eversource power crews were waiting to finish repairs.
Greenfield police are in charge of the accident investigation, assisted by state police. Gordon said there was no immediate sign of the cause. “Not even brake marks. It appears the truck drove directly into the guardrail without being able to maneuver,” he said.
Another tractor-trailer rolled over in the same spot Sept. 4, also in the early morning hours. The driver in that accident was trapped by power lines for about 90 minutes, but reportedly escaped with an injured hand.
Police diverted westbound truck traffic aiming for Interstate 91 up Main Road in Gill to Route 10 in Northfield and over to Route 63, Gordon said.
Traffic backed up down the Turners Falls Road hill into Turners Falls at rush hour, drivers evidently bound for Route 2 east.
Factory Hollow Road was open for residents of the road only Monday, with residents asked to check in with the police at the Adams Road and Route 2 intersection.
An unrelated accident added to the scene Monday morning on the Gill end, where a tractor trailer leaked what firefighters said was nonhazardous red ink.
Broadcast on WesternMass News:
The Lanesborough Fire Dept. responded to Mount Greylock for a hiker with a laceration on his leg from an ax.
Lanesborough Chief Charles Durfee said the call came in around 12:30 p.m. First responders arrived on scene at 1:05 p.m.
The victim was about 2.5 miles in the woods on the Old Adams Rd. Trail.
"We could only get the ATVs in about a mile on the trail. We had to hike in the last 1.5 miles," said Durfee.
The Western Mass Tech Rescue Team was called in to assist.
Durfee says the team used three ATVs to run people and equipment in the first mile.
11 Lanesborough firefighters and 16 Western Mass. Tech Rescue Team members were on scene.
The hike was transported to Berkshire Medical Center.