FM firefighters rescue woman off 40-foot hillside


FORT MADISON – Fort Madison firefighters rescued a woman Friday who had fallen down an embankment behind a trailer park north of the Fort Madison High School.

According to Fort Madison Fire Department Capt. Mike Schneider, four firefighters from the department’s B-Shift, two Lee County EMS EMTs, and two police officers responded to an area behind the trailer park at 18th Street and Avenue A, where a woman had fallen down a 30- to 40-foot embankment while apparently looking for her pet.

“There’s a creek back there with some pretty steep sides and she went looking for her cat, fell and slipped down the hillside and then down the embankment, and was kind of stuck there,” Schneider said.

He said after receiving the call, the department, which was already on another medical call, sent a truck to the scene. Firefighters then called for truck 9442 to bring ropes and a stokes basket. Upon arrival, firefighters had to rig up a ropes system and lower personnel down the hillside to attend to the woman who had to be put onto a backboard and then put in the stokes basket to be lifted off the hillside.

He said several rigging systems had to be implemented for change of direction.

Schneider said the woman was about two-thirds of the way down the hillside that was rough with roots and underbrush.

“When she fell she was complaining of some injuries, so we had to take some spinal precautions. We can’t just throw a rope 30 to 40 feet down and haul somebody out. I thought our guys did a really good job of getting the ropes and pulley systems set up and getting her out of there.”

He said the department had just undergone some rope rescue training that week.

“The ironic thing about it is that this week was ropes training,” he said. “On Tuesday we set up haul systems with ropes and everything and did raising with rope systems. On Friday we had a Firefighter 1 web-based training where we followed up with some video training. And a couple hours later we were out there using that training.”

The victim, who couldn’t be identified because of privacy laws, was taken by Lee County EMS to Fort Madison Community Hospital and her condition is not available.

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