Yesterday afternoon, the bluffs of Fort Bragg reminded another visitor of the risks inherent in the alluring landscape when a man lost his footing along the cliffside and tumbled down the steep slope coming to rest mid-way down the rockface as the Pacific churned below.
Fort Bragg Fire Department Chief Steve Orsi told us his team rigged up the equipment necessary to perform a high-angle rescue allowing personnel to descend the bluff in a controlled manner and successfully retrieve the man who was uninjured.
Chief Orsi did not know the exact details of how the man came to fall down the Fort Bragg cliffside yesterday, but he did tell us the fall occurred after the man strayed from the established trail. The edge of these cliffs, Chief Orsi explained, are unstable and can unpredictably give way when trod upon by a sightseer. He emphasized the importance of adhering to marked trails and the risk inherent along the rim of the bluffs.
Chief Orsi said his crew regularly trains their high-angle rope rescue skills, an essential technique in keeping emergency personnel safe when navigating vertical or nearly vertical slopes. Multi-story buildings are often an effective training environment for the rescue system, according to Chief Orsi, but they fail to capture the rugged, roughly-hewn nature of the Mendocino Coast’s cliffsides.
High-angle rope rescue techniques utilize ropes, anchors, and rappel systems to stabilize rescuers as they ascend and descend steep slopes. Chief Orsi told us yesterday’s rescue system was anchored on one of the fire department’s trucks parked above.
Countless Mendocino County residents rely on the swift action of our volunteer fire departments during fires, medical emergencies, traffic accidents, and more. They do that work with minimal funding. To support the essential work of the many volunteers that work with the Fort Bragg Police Department, send a check to 141 N Main Street-Fort Bragg, Ca 95437.