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Fall on Rock, Maryland, Carderock


Maryland, Carderock

On May 16, I was half way up Jan's Face, a climb at the north end of the Carderock Climbing Area, when we heard someone calling, in a weak voice, “HELP, I think I have broken my leg.” I called back, “We will be right there,” and asked for a ride from my belayer. A woman climbing next to me and I started toward the sound of his voice.

I was about two steps behind her when we arrived at the patient. I said, “Hi, I am Art Dodds, an Emergency Medical Technician, and may I help you?” I was more surprised by the response from the woman than from Joe, the patient. She said, “Oh, thank God you are here!” It made me wonder what she was planning to do when she got there. I put on my gloves (I carry some in my wallet) and began my exam. I had no other gear. He had a probable broken fibula just above the right ankle and an abrasion to the knee. A quick neurological and pulses revealed nothing remarkable. I splinted his ankle with his jacket and the webbing he was using for a harness. The mechanism of injury was a fall while bouldering. He believed he did not hit his head or lose consciousness.

My problem was, should I call 911? The last time 911 was called, they responded with two ambulances, three fire trucks, and a Park Service helicopter for a similar injury. A news media helicopter also showed up. They also blocked the parking lot for about two hours while they hauled the litter up the cliff. The place where the incident happened is about 1,000 feet from the parking lot and down a 40 foot cliff.

Joe was eager to get to his car and believed he could hobble with some help. Great. I got on one side and another climber got the other. Once we got to level ground, I got him on my back and we walked to the parking lot. I had told Joe I would drive his car to the hospital ten minutes away if he would wait until I got my gear down. He elected to remove the splint and drive his car, standard transmission, to the hospital in Frederick, Maryland, about a 40-minute drive. I wished him well.

On the way to get my gear, I ran into three members of Maryland SAR. They said, “What have you been up to?” “Oh, I just finished a rescue.” They thought I was joking until they noticed I was removing my rubber gloves to shake hands. (Source: Art Dodds, via Peter McCabe)