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Rescue Teams Save 3 in Remote Woods

PATAPSCO VALLEY, Md. -- A man and woman who fell about 50 feet from a rocky outcropping in Patapsco Valley State Park Monday night were rescued from a remote location by police and rescue teams who used a system of ropes to pull them out, Baltimore County officials said yesterday.

The two adults, who were not identified, were sitting on a well-visited Baltimore County outcropping - known as the Ilchester Rocks - when the woman stood and slipped, according to Baltimore County Fire Department spokeswoman Elise Armacost. When the man grabbed her arm to keep her from falling, both fell off the edge, Armacost said.

The rescue was one of two Monday that involved helicopters helping individuals who had been injured in remote wooded areas. The first incident involved a woman who injured her back walking a trail near Prettyboy Reservoir in northern Baltimore County. A Baltimore County police helicopter was used to lift the woman in a rescue basket and move her to an accessible area, Armacost said. The woman was not identified.

At Patapsco Valley State Park, a Department of Natural Resources ranger reached the scene first, after another hiker reported screams for help, and found two individuals on the ground below the outcropping that overlooks the Patapsco River at the Baltimore/Howard County line, department spokeswoman Olivia Campbell said.

Around the same time, a Baltimore County police officer and Baltimore County EMT units reached the man and woman and began treating them, Campbell said.

Baltimore County Fire Department Battalion Chief Stephen Lancaster, who oversaw the rescue, said one of the injured was responsive, but both had suffered multiple injuries including broken limbs. He said that's why he called for the Go-Team from the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

The Go-Team is a unit deployed by helicopter to provide lifesaving medical care in situations "when there might be a long extrication, when someone is trapped or when they think that the person might lose a limb," said Shock Trauma spokeswoman Cindy Rivers.

The conditions of the injured man and woman could not be learned.

Baltimore County Fire Department Capt. Dan Lemmon, whose team assisted Lancaster's unit, said a major effort was building a system of ropes and pulleys, called a "Z-rig," which provided the hauling force when the two were lifted up the hill.

Once the two injured people were at the top of the hill, all-terrain vehicles provided by Howard County Fire and Rescue transported them to waiting ambulances at Hilltop Road. They were taken to helicopters at Hillcrest Elementary School, Campbell said, and treated by the Go-Team while being transported to Shock Trauma in Baltimore.

The rescue operation included assistance from the state's Department of Natural Resources Park Services, the Natural Resources Police, Howard County fire and rescue, and the state police.

According to Lancaster, who teaches technical rescue, the rescue occurred primarily in the dark.

"Everyone worked extremely well together," he said. "It was not chaotic at all; everyone knew what they were supposed to be doing, and everything went smoothly."

kevin.rector@baltsun.com

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