Hamilton Co. first responders train hours for cave and cliff rescue missions
Josiah Madrigal gave an update on his brother Jordan Madrigal's condition Wednesday. He said Jordan suffered a broken ankle, tailbone and clavicle, a dislocated wrist and a minor collapsed lung. Josiah said Jordan is in a lot of pain but will recover, and will be going into surgery Wednesday to repair the broken ankle.
The volunteer firefighter and rock climber got those injuries when he fell 30 feet while climbing at Sunset Rock Tuesday.
The Hamilton cave and cliff rescue team responded to the call according to Captain Brad Tipton.
"Our medical director lives on Lookout Mountain, so he was there very quickly, and now you've got all the best wilderness care in that case quickly," Tipton said.
Tipton has over 20 years of experience, he's a volunteer just like the 43 team members who make up the cave and cliff rescue team that includes EMT's and doctors.
"On just a typical cliff call, like yesterday, we executed that with about 15 folks on scene," Tipton said.
He said Jordan's rescue only scratches the surface of what they do. Tipton said he's had more than 111 people responding to one cave rescue before, and some of these rescues might not take just hours.
"Our medics and our doctors are thinking about stabilizing the patient for the long haul," Tipton said. It could be four or five hours, or it could be three or four days."
Rescuers aren't only focusing on stabilizing a patient, but they're focusing on the ropes that they're using to help them get to and from a rescue.
"Cave rescue requires a lot of special technique, a lot of rope rescues so you have to understand forces and angles and the technique that goes with rope rescue," Tipton said. "With the 40 plus members that I have, they probably put in about 5,000 hours in just rope rescue training."
Tipton said these volunteers are kayakers, cavers and climbers that not only take the time to train but will drop anything on a moment's notice when duty calls.
"If you're caving or you're climbing and you're pushing the limits, you start thinking about who's going to come get me when I'm hurt, and I think it's maybe a little bit of a responsibility back to the community," Tipton said.
All the equipment the cave and cliff rescue team uses are purchased through donations. If you would like to donate, you can do so on Facebook.
You can also apply to be a part of the rescue team. If you want to fill out an application, visit the Chattanooga Hamilton County Rescue Service's website.