Rope rescue exercise prepares first responders at Devil's Lake

BARABOO, Wis. (WMTV) -- A rescue exercise at Devil's Lake State Park Monday evening prepared first responders for technical rope rescues ahead of the summer season.

Med Flight, wardens with the DNR, and the Baraboo Rope Rescue team, comprised of members of the Baraboo Fire Department and Baraboo EMS, gathered on the bluffs in the park to practice a realistic rescue situation.

"Tonight’s training is a scenario where a rock climber has fallen off of a cliff edge and he’s stuck on a cliff edge," said Mark Willer, a lieutenant with the Baraboo Fire Department and the manager of the Baraboo Rope Rescue Team. "We’re going to send a medic down over the edge to make patient access and make medical treatments, and then the team’s going to follow up behind and set up a rope system to pull them up vertically off that cliff edge.”

The evening began with the arrival of Med Flight, then the team set up ropes at the top of a bluff to prepare to lower a medic down to a fake patient below. This kind of training is important because these are the situations the team encounters in real life.

“The rock climber falling part is not very common, the rock climbers are very safe out there," said Willer. "But having to pick somebody off a vertical cliff edge and bring them back up over the edge is very common if you were to think about how many types of calls where we use ropes. Our most common rope rescue out there is the slips and trips and falls, where the person is usually on the trail.”

Willer said that they usually get about 20 calls to Devil's Lake State Park every year, and about five of those calls involve the technical ropes training they practiced Monday night.

"Having Rope Rescue Team is really beneficial because we can provide that service to the citizens and visitors at Devil's Lake, and we can help them get off safely and get the appropriate medical care," he said.

Willer said to stay safe, people should make sure to stay on the trails.