Published in the Greenfield Recorder:
By David Rainville
July 17, 2014
ERVING — A rock climber was taken to the hospital by helicopter after falling 30 feet and landing on his face Thursday.
Fire Capt. Mitchell LaClair Sr. said the man, approximately 50 years old, did not have any apparent broken bones or other serious injuries.
“He had a loss of consciousness for a short period of time,” LaClair said. “He had several bumps and bruises, as well as neck and back pain.”
By the time firefighters reached him, he had regained consciousness and seemed alert, LaClair said.
The patient had been climbing the Farley Ledges, a popular rock climbing spot, with others and was just about to hook his safety line onto an anchor in the rock face when he slipped, said LaClair.
Though he missed the anchor point, the patient was tied off to another climber who helped to break his fall.
“It wasn’t a true free-fall,” LaClair explained.
The captain said the climber was wearing a helmet and all the appropriate safety gear for rock climbing.
“He was no amateur,” he said.
Knowing the area and the steep climb that leads to the ledges, LaClair said he called in the Franklin County Technical Rescue Team as soon as the call came in at about 4:30 p.m. The team is spearheaded by the Turners Falls and Greenfield fire departments, and has members from other departments as well.
LaClair also called the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team, from Hampshire and Hamden counties, placing them on standby. The Orange Fire Department and Gill Police also assisted.
“We had about 35 or 36 members of various departments on the scene to help with extrication,” LaClair said.
“It took about 15 minutes just to hike to the patient,” he said. “It’s quite a hike. A lot of it is nearly vertical, and we have a lot of equipment to carry.
“We had to bring him down with ropes and slings,” LaClair continued. “It took a couple hours just to get him out of the woods.”
Because of the lengthy extrication, LaClair had the LifeFlight helicopter ambulance land and stand by at the Northfield Mountain visitors center.
The closer landing zone, he said, is Route 2. Since the rescue took place when many people were headed home from work, LaClair had the helicopter wait until the patient was brought down to the road.
“Once he was extricated, the pilot took off, popped over the hill and set down on Route 2,” he said.
The patient was flown to the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester.
At press time, LaClair said he was still gathering information about the incident, and did not yet have a town of residence for the man.