Troy's Excellent Adventures: Training for dangerous cliff rescue - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Troy's Excellent Adventures: Training for dangerous cliff rescues

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PRESCOTT, Ariz. -

We are fortunate here in Arizona to have so many beautiful mountains, cliffs and rock formations.  Many of them are perfect for climbing, but sometimes, climbers get in trouble.

And when they find themselves in extreme situations, they need an extreme rescue team to get them down.

These guys don't mess around.  A team of Department of Public Safety officers are who you call in when nobody else can get the job done.

I got to hang out with them in a beautiful spot near Prescott and it was an excellent adventure.

Can I start by asking who's keeping Watson Lake a secret?  Wow!  What views..

DPS Officer Russ Dodge picked this spot to conduct what's called long line training.  Basically, picking people off the sides of cliffs or the tops of mountains when they are in big trouble.

I've worked with Russ before and he trusts me enough to suit me up with his team.  I trust him enough to not drop me down a 80 foot cliff.  I'm going to play a victim in this first descent.

My thoughts are trying to keep that "injured" part as just a drill as I lean back over the edge of the drop cliff.

I work my way down the cliff and make it safely into position and here comes my rescuer, DPS Officer Eric Paulsen.

And here's where the teamwork really comes in.  Eric's fellow rescuers are above us, making sure our lines are anchored into the rock and they use a series of pulleys and raw muscle to pull us up the side of the cliff.

Success -- that was pretty easy, but this is a little harder -- getting someone down off a mountain in a rescue basket.

I'm secure strapped into the basket, but at over 190 pounds I'm a big load for DPS and Officer Troy Hayes.

He's struggling and I tip.. whoa.. at this point, I'm really glad I'm strapped in.  As I look down, I see Troy all by himself, dealing with the ropes, the cliff and my weight.

One of his lines is too tight and watch as he actually climbs on top of me to free himself.  His teammates struggle with their ropes, trying to keep my basket straight.  Is this a hairy job or what?

After a few agonizing minutes, he is finally ready to go and I get a little cliff side wisdom.

"In the real world.. things don't always go as planned.." said Hayes.

The key for Troy now is to pull my weight away from the cliff so I'm not bouncing all the way down.

And he mostly pulls it off.  It wasn't pretty, but the rescuer is down, the patient is down -- you got to respect these guys for what they do.  Chalk this operation up as a success.

A really physical job.  Just think about the raw strength these guys need to muscle someone like me down a cliff.

Thanks to Russ and his DPS team for inviting us out.

 

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