Beating the Wind

Saturday, May 22, 2010
The wind in Las Vegas has been atrocious the last couple of days. Because of this, the Mountain Rescue Team was bound and determined to start our monthly weekend training early in an effort to beat the high winds that were expected to arrive this afternoon. Although we don't always use our helicopters on training days, we had planned to utilize one for today's session in order to reach a secluded section of Red Rock on a traditionally busy Saturday. With wind speeds reaching 5-10 MPH, we began flying the team into the designated training area around 9:00am. We used the landing zone at the Red Rock Overlook as our staging area:

Here's a picture of where the team was dropped off:

The objective of today's training was to get our systems set up, get rescuers to the victims that had been staged approximately 300 feet below our anchor systems, and extricate both the victims and rescuers in a timely manner. Although the team had incentive to beat the wind today, we treat our training missions just like real rescues, so safety and efficiency are always at the fore front of our minds. The scenario for today's training included two stranded climbers. One had fallen, injuring their arm and leg while we received word of no injuries for the second climber.

After setting up our anchors and systems, we lowered a rescuer with a medical pack and litter down to the victims. Shortly thereafter, we had 3 additional rescuers rappel to the victims in order to help facilitate medical as well as aiding in the exit strategy.

This is a picture of the team as they lowered the initial rescuer to the victims below:

The remaining rescuers rappelled to the victims:

Because the team at the bottom were able to find a landing zone for helicopter pick-up, they packaged the injured patient and helped the uninjured patient to the landing zone where they were extricated via helicopter.

By the end of our training session, winds began to increase to 15MPH with gusts reaching 20MPH. Our highly trained pilots were able to get the entire team off of the mountain before the wind had a chance to increase even more.

Here's a picture of the team gear ready for short haul: