First responder talks about the difficulty of ice climber rescue


TANNERSVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — While first responders are trained to handle difficult situations, Saturday’s call to rescue an 11-year old who fell ice climbing was especially difficult.

“It’s always real harsh when there is a child involved,” said Stephen Tuomey, who is a member of the Tannersville Fire Department and the Twin Cloves Rescue Team.

On Saturday, Tuomey was called in to help, after a young ice climber lost his footing and fell nearly 300 feet down a cliff. He and his fellow rescuers responded to the scene.

“The number one thing,” Tuomey said, “is we have to practice safety. To go in, we have to know what we are going into, where we are going, and make sure we have the proper equipment to go in with.”

That equipment includes a helmet, harness, and ropes. During the rescue, members of Tuomey’s department assisted and accompanied state forest rangers repel down a mountain. It was a dangerous and difficult task. Unfortunately, the 11 year-old died from his injuries.

In times of tragedy, Tuomey and his team come together as a family to help each other cope with a loss.

“We are always talking after work,” explained Tuomey. “There is another group that we can call if we feel like we need to get more mental health guidance.”

He said when it comes to rescuing ice climbers, his department only gets a few calls a year. Helping hikers is much more common.

“Our rope rescue team, we have been averaging anywhere between 18-26 calls during the year just on hikers and going into the falls.”

He explained that many of those who need rescuing do not have the proper clothing or footwear when they head out on the trails. However, this was not the case in Saturday’s situation.

“These folks that were involved, they were well prepared. They had the proper equipment, it was just a tragic accident.”


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