Future first responders learn the ropes of cliff rescues - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Future first responders learn the ropes of cliff rescues

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A hiker is stranded 35 feet above the ground because of jammed gear. Students from Randolph Technical Career Center quickly make their approach.

"It is really scary, especially your first couple of times," said Markei Delude of Northfield. "And like today it's really kind of icy up there, so you really got to trust in your team and trust in what you learned."

"Being in high school and doing this stuff is awesome. It's not like we are sitting in a classroom covering it, we are actually out doing it," said Kris DeCoff of Bethel.

The 16 students are in the school's criminal justice and public safety class. They are learning basic police, fire and other first responder skills, including technical rescue.

"By the time they are done this year they will all be certified as [National Fire Protection] rope rescue technicians to level two. They can do high angle rescue, low angle rescue. They can do pretty much any rope technical rescue, including confined space," instructor Tom Harty said.

Harty talks the students through this training exercise step by step. They are rappelling to the victim, transferring him to their own ropes and carrying him to safety, a task that is done methodically, making sure a wrong move does not lead to an even direr situation. Eventually they will be able to take that knowledge into a real-life rescue.

"We are certainly ready, willing and able to go, and we have been called out on state police searches ready to assist," Harty said.

"It is something that I want to get into later in life. I'm already on the Bethel Fire Department and the rescue aspect of the fire department is something that is really cool," DeCoff said.

"I am really interested in EMT work," Delude said. "What we are doing today definitely ropes in with everything I like doing."

And as the would-be victim is lowered safely to the ground, the students take pride knowing someday it could be the real thing.

"I like the benefit of knowing that." Delude said.

And they are learning how to do it on a cliff rather than in the classroom.

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