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Rescue call required team effort



Running rescue calls is rarely an easy job, but sometimes elements combine to make it down right difficult.

That was the case Thursday night when flooding wiped out Sycamore Lane bridge, leaving a patient in need of medical assistance on one side of Tract Fork creek and REMSI medics on the other side.

The medics could neither drive nor walk across the creek, so the situation called for special training and a team effort.

Robbie Kiser, Pulaski fire chief, said his department and Pulaski County Special Operations Team were dispatched at 10:30 p.m. to assist REMSI medics in reaching their patient. Getting them across the creek wouldn’t be easy though because the normally small creek was more like a river.

That’s where three certified swift water swimmers came into play. They swam across the swiftly moving current and sat up a rope system that enabled a rubber raft to cross Tract Fork.

REMSI medics, including H.M. Kidd, then boarded the tethered raft and crossed the creek.

Kidd has been running rescue calls for 28 years — 20 full-time and eight as a volunteer. But this is the first time he’s ever had to resort to a raft to reach a patient.

At the time, with adrenalin flowing, he didn’t give much thought to the danger that could be involved in crossing a swift-moving body of water. Later, though, it clicked in his brain.

“It definitely raises your awareness. It was a little hairy,” he said.

To get the raft across, ropes were thrown across the creek to a citizen on the other side. That end was tied off to a tree and the rescue side was tied to a vehicle. The raft was attached to the ropes and pulled across the water in a pulley-like system.

Once he and other medics got across, the patient’s neighbors allowed them to borrow a four-wheel-drive truck to drive about a quarter mile the patient’s house. The patient was then loaded into the back of the truck and taken back to the creek.

Kidd accompanied the patient across the 30-50 feet wide Tract Fork to the ambulance.

He’s hopeful he won’t have to use the same process to access a patient again — at least for a while. “But if I do, I have all the confidence in Special Ops and the fire department” to get him through it safely, he said. “We work well together.”

In a Friday morning Facebook post, Kidd said of the incident, “This is all teamwork and could not have been done without each piece of the puzzle. To see this done is one thing. To be a part of this is amazing. Thanks everyone for making it safe and taking care of me and the patient.

“JOB WELL DONE!” he added.

Kiser’s assessment was in agreement.

“This was an all-around solid effort by all agencies involved to safely handle the patient from the residence across the high water creek and into care of EMS in there ambulance,” he said in a press release. “Public Safety personnel were on scene for approximately two hours during this operation, with roughly 30 personnel, and it took help from everyone on scene to make it happen.”

Kiser expressed gratitude to all agencies involved for their “hard work” in a “successful and safe … swift water event.”



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