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Vt. rescue team risks their lives to save others - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. rescue team risks their lives to save others

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RICHMOND, Vt. - Colchester Technical Rescue is one of 11 search and rescue teams across the state. At dangerous spots like the Huntington Gorge, they take extreme precautions to ensure their own safety.

"It's very dangerous," said Richmond Police Chief, Alan Buck.

Despite the beauty of the waterfalls and calm looking pools, the waters at Huntington Gorge are one of the most dangerous yet popular swimming spots in Vermont.

"I see people out here especially on a warm day, weekends, you'll see people here," said Clark Adams, Jericho resident.

The Colchester Technical Rescue team rushed to the Gorge Sunday when a body was reported in the water.

Members of the rescue team risk their own lives to pull people out.

Just north of Seattle, a water rescuer tumbled to his death Sunday. It's a solemn reminder of the dangers of the job.

The first responders train to balance speed versus safety.

"So you try to do it fast and efficiently but also try to do it safely, but sometimes you have an inkling to cut corners but you can't do that," said Mike Cannon, director of Colchester Technical Rescue.

Since the death of State Police rescuer Gary Gaboury at Huntington Gorge in 1992, the rescue teams have developed a detailed system to keep themselves safe.

"This harness has attachment points so we can attach ourselves to a tether which would be anchored back, and that's what we did yesterday," said Matt Speier, from Colchester Technical Rescue.

The 11 search and rescue teams across the state use ropes and pulleys to lower themselves down the rocky terrain.

"So this would be one means of securing ourselves. It allows me to weight the line and remain in one position, and then I can also lower myself down, so that's one feature that some of us use to rappel down to the individual," said Speier.

Chief Buck says the gorge will remain a popular spot to swim and for Colchester rescue, it will remain a difficult spot for rescues.

"In this area the gorge is probably one of the more technical areas that we go to," said Cannon.

The 11 rescue organizations across the state are now trying to coordinate their efforts to produce a statewide rescue effort by strategically placing the groups across the state, Colchester would face less of a burden to respond far away.

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