Saturday, May 15, 2010

Training at the Blossom Gliderport

Blossom Valley: High in the hills above El Monte Valley lies one of the most popular spots in Southern California for para-glider and hang glider pilots to test their skills in the upslope winds that funnel up from the canyon below. This area has been a mecca for these enthusiasts since the early 80's, and its popularity grows each year. On a clear summer evening it's not uncommon to see multiple gliders in the area.

The view of the El Monte Valley from the Blossom Gliderport.

But with any sport that has a degree of risk accidents do happen. Over the years the Lakeside Fire District has been called to assist injured pilots along the range of hills where they circle. Unfortunately the area is extremely rugged and in many spots it requires the use of ropes and hardware to retrieve the injured.

Fire Engineer Rich Smith reviews using hardware on technical rope systems while Firefighter-Paramedic Jamie Hazlewood works on a lowering system.
Recently the crew from Rescue 3 and Medic 3 (Lake Jennings Station) traveled to the area to practice setting up rope systems and evaluating the different slope areas where potential incidents occur. The most important aspect of these rescues is getting a paramedic to the injured party so decisions can be made based on their injuries. As most of these injuries require evaluation at a "Trauma Center" we work to maintain the "Golden Hour" treatment guidelines that suggest from the time of injury till arrival at a trauma center should not exceed an hour. But with any rescue that occurs in these areas, time is not always on our side. Given the vast area in the Eastern El Monte Valley, simply locating the downed pilot can be time consuming.

Crews review the proper "lashing" technique for removing patients. Lashing is the method we use to secure a patient into the stokes basket.
Lakeside Firefighter-Paramedic Jose Corona and Josh Raczka being lowered into the canyon on a 500' rope. They will start treatment on the patient once they access their location and radio up information that will determine how they will be extricated from the canyon.

Once the injuries are evaluated specific choices can be made on how best to remove the victim. Those choices can include a simple "hike out", all the way up to a hoist removal by helicopter.

Submitted By: Captain Mark Grow, Lakeside Fire District

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