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Stranded, Fall on Rock, Protection Pulled, Virgina, Seneca Rocks


Virginia, Seneca Rocks

In early April, a climber (age unknown) started soloing a chimney on the West Face of the North Peak. He got up 15 or 20 feet and decided that he would rather have a rope, so his partner threw the end of the rope up to him and the climber tied in. He placed a Camalot, climbed a few feet farther, and then fell. The Camalot pulled. The climber fell down the chimney, sustaining severe head and internal injuries. He was unconscious when several climbers with EMT training first reached him They unsuccessfully tried CPR to resuscitate him when his heart stopped. (He was not wearing a helmet, though later comments from the coroner indicated that a helmet probably would not have saved him due to the severity of internal injuries.)


For me, the most import lesson from this accident came a month later, when I heard via the Internet that the victim had tested positive for Hepatitis B. While one of the ambulance crew had asked the police personnel present at the accident to record the name and phone number of those who assisted in the recovery effort, it turned out that only about half of those involved had been recorded. As a result, many of these people (myself included) who had significant contact with the victim’s blood did not learn about the lab test until long after the time period during which a prophylactic treatment for Hepatitis B is useful—typically 7 to 10 days after contact. Fortunately, it was later discovered that the initial test results were incorrect.

If you are involved in a rescue, make sure you find out who you can contact to get any medical information that may be relevant to rescuers, and follow it up. Climbers often have many nicks and cuts on their hands after a day of climbing, and in this age of serious blood-borne diseases it is a good idea to carry a pair of latex gloves and some prepackaged handi-wipes in the event you assist in a rescue or recovery. (Source: Chris Leger)

(Editor’s Note: Latex gloves are standard items for even the smallest of First Aid Kits. On the other hand, First Aid Kits do not yet seem to be a standard item carried by climbers. At places like Seneca, the Gunks, Joshua Tree, etc., day packs are often left on the ground. Having a FAK in them is a good idea.)