ST. GEORGE —In the early morning hours of Wednesday, St. George Fire Department personnel responded to a vertical rescue on Webb Hill for a woman in distress.
Shortly after 8 a.m., approximately 15 first responders flocked to the hill, bristling with its array of communications, radio, and television broadcasting antennae towering over the Bloomington Hills area. A St. George woman in her mid-30s had plunged off the precipice of Webb Hill.
The unidentified woman fell approximately 60 feet before tumbling another 40 feet farther down before settling break in the cliffside.
Because of the topography of the location, firefighters were able to conduct a “low-angle rescue” scrambling on foot to the victim without the need to conduct a much more technical “high angle” approach that would have required an extensive rope-assessed extraction, said Fire Department spokesperson Battalion Chief Robert Hooper.
It is these types of scenarios that each member of the department is trained to respond, Hooper added.
Along with the specialists, “All of our firefighters have a basic level of rope training,” Hooper said. “They are trained in getting up main lines, belays, and using stoke baskets.”
On Wednesday’s call, four of the first responders were certified in technical vertical rescue with hundreds of hours of additional specialized training.
Along with the relative ease of getting to the injured woman, physical access and the hill’s dirt roadway offered an ideal set of circumstances to pluck the patient from the chasm and transported to Dixie Regional Medical Hospital.
“In fact, Gold Cross was able to get their ambulance within 20 yards of where the operation was happening,” Hooper said. “This was one reason why we brought her out over the top rather than taking her out from the bottom of the hill … which would have taken over an hour.”
Hooper would not speculate on the cause of the fall or the extent of the injuries suffered but did say the patient was transported to the emergency room in critical condition and unconscious at the time of her rescue.
Another saving grace to this rescue was a maintenance worker that happened to be on scene armed with master keys to open gate access to the various communication arrays that were used as rope anchor points.
“It was quite the scene, but everything went very well,” Hooper said. “It was overall a good team effort to rescue this woman and get the best care possible for her.”
Other responders included St. George Police Department and paramedics from Gold Cross Ambulance.
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