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Local squads train on ropes in Silver Bay

Lake County Sheriff's rescue squad volunteer Carrie Wirt attempts to keep a rescue basket straight while climbing a cliff's edge. (Teri Cadeau / News-Chronicle)1 / 5
Rescue squad volunteers Andy Gomez and Lee Yoki prepare ropes for the rescue scenario at the top of the cliff. (Teri Cadeau / News-Chronicle)2 / 5
Rescue squad volunteer Fiina Yoki makes her ascent up the cliff's edge to rescue "victim" Jesse Walters in the mock rescue scenario. (Teri Cadeau / News-Chronicle)3 / 5
Fiina Yoki leans back to demonstrate how a belay team can help the rescuer stay safe while approaching a victim while Gary Scott acts as her belay and Pete Smerud explains the scenario. (Teri Cadeau / News-Chronicle)4 / 5
Chris Belanger captain of the Finland/Silver Bay rescue squad, points out a possible rescue approach to Pete Smerud and Lee Yoki while planning a practice rescue scenario. (Teri Cadeau / News-Chronicle)5 / 5

The Finland and Silver Bay rescue squads held their annual ropes rescue training July 18 on a cliff, “Eleanor” at the North Shore Adventure Park, just outside of Silver Bay.

The cliff is approximately 30 feet high and 1,000 feet wide. About 21 volunteers from the Finland and Silver Bay participated in the training.

Members of the Lake County Rescue Squad act as a "belay team" to ensure the rescuer stays safe. (Teri Cadeau / News-Chronicle)“The Sheriff’s Rescue Squad responds to many 911 calls in the area and they need to be confident in their ability to climb up or down cliffs and to help people,” said Chris Belanger, Finland and Silver Bay squads captain. “We train for every possible scenario because injuries

happen at the bottom of cliffs as well as at the top.”

The squads ran through two scenarios in their two-hour training slot. In the first, an injured climber was stuck on a rock ledge and needed to be rescued. One volunteer would act as the injured person while a group of volunteers planned out the rescue route and acted as a belay team to keep the rescuer safe and supported.

According to Belanger, the most common calls are from people who are out exploring the area and hit a bad spot and need help.

“We have rescued people falling short distances on a cliff, experienced climbers who have gotten injured and couldn’t climb out alone, and sadly, have been on the scene after fatal falls,” Belanger said.

In the second scenario, a climber or hiker was injured at the top of a cliff and needed to be evacuated using a “basket,” a flat rescue cot onto which the victim can be strapped down for safety.

Much of the training time was spent talking through the scenarios, figuring out the safest approach and setting up the ropes.

“That’s something people don’t think about, how much time we spend making sure we take the safest course,” rescue squad volunteer Pete Smerud said. “It’s a stressful situation and we want to take our time and make sure we’re not making a bad situation worse.”

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