Beauty, Bees, and Camaraderie Punctuate Training Day for Two Tech Rescue Teams
Both crews are staffed with volunteers that must put in long hours learning rescue skills in order to belong to the elite teams. The teams practiced rappelling and other skills in a breathtaking setting.
“You have to know LARRO (Low Angle Rope Rescue Operations),” explained Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue Public Information Officer Thomas Norris. “But today we practiced High Angle Rope Rescue training. That is a verticle rescue like off a cliff face or off a bridge.”
Though their surroundings were serene as waterfalls tumbled beneath them into deep pools, the team members had to be extra alert as they practiced the important skills, Norris explained.
First, the teams started out warming up their rappelling skills. The two women members went first. Then, one of the youngest members of the team, Teamo Tenorio-gregori, began heading down a steep cliff face only to holler for the hoist to be reversed when he ran into a wasp nest. He was stung or bit around 12 times before he escaped the swarm.
He got to spend the rest of the day relaxing in the cool water after that.
Rather than risk the wrath of the wasps, Norris explained, “We switched and did a lowering and raising system.” The object was to place the rescuer where he or she needed to be. “We need to be able to pinpoint where we want to rescue,” he said.
Kai Ostrow from the SHCTR climbed over to the far cliff and anchored one section of the ropes. He then tossed the rope back to his partner.
The ropes were tied off to trees. After these tested steady, each climber secured their harness to the ropes and practiced getting to the spot they selected.
The climbers move slowly and pick their way down.
Beneath them is a pool of water but the climb is still dangerous.
“These climbs give us a chance to figure out what works and what doesn’t,” Norris explained.
The team members are tired but obviously exhilarated when they complete their difficult task.
The team members occasionally shout teasing comments to those climbing– reminding each other of past mistakes and ways they could slip up but their eyes watch the ropes alert for anything that might go wrong. And, when each climber arrives back at the top, they are greeted with a strong hand reaching out for them and pats on the shoulder.
The words are joking but the support is real.
When the climb is over, the two teams move quickly and smoothly together to put away equipment that each purchased with money they raised side by side at fundraisers. They are used to depending on each other. Their teammates are people who have steadied the ropes, reached out a helping hand, and made sure that the work that was needed was done.
Today though, their task is over and they leave knowing that when someone needs them next, they’ll be ready.