12 February, 2002
RESCUE ON THE GLACIER!
A few days ago, a person needed to be rescued from a crevasse in the glacier! No, this wasn't a real emergency. Tom Cohenour, coordinator of FEMC, volunteered to be a "victim" who had fallen into a large crack in the ice. He did this so that the Glacier Search and Rescue (GSAR) team members could practice their skills.
People go out onto the glacier for science and for exercise. The GSAR team keeps the trail well marked with a safe zone for walking. However, if a person ever goes against the rules, walks beyond the black flags and away from the safe area, he might fall into a crevasse. So, the GSAR team holds a monthly drill in search and rescue methods.
First the team met in the morning to discuss the exercise. Doug Fink, the GSAR team leader, explained that Tom would be lowered down on a rope into a crevasse. He would be about 50 feet down within the glacier. Then a team member would be lowered down to Tom. That person would get Tom into a stretcher and stay with him until he could be rescued. Doug led a discussion with the GSAR team about ropes, pulleys, and rescue techniques.
The team packed lunches and checked their equipment. They hiked up to the glacier. Tom was lowered down into the crevasse. The team set up the ropes and pulleys. Jeff Bechtel was lowered down to Tom. When Tom was in the litter, Jeff attached himself to the litter also. He held the litter in a horizontal position. Then the team pulled them both up to the top of the crevasse. As Jeff and Tom got up to the last 8 feet below the top, the surface hole got smaller. It was about the size of one of our dining room tables, or about 6 feet by 2.5 feet. There were also some sharp icicles right beneath the surface. So, Tom had to be turned to a vertical position in order to be pulled out of the crevasse!
The team (and victim) were out on their practice rescue exercise for five hours. The rescue itself took about 2 hours, with 45 minutes spent in pulling Tom and Jeff out of the crevasse! When the team got back, they discussed their day.
Laura Hamilton, one of the GSAR team members, took the photos of the actual "rescue" on the glacier. Thanks, Laura, for sharing your photos with us!
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