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News Release
PF&R respond to man over railing and down a steep wooded cliff in SW Portland (Photo) - 06/07/24

PF&R respond to man over railing and down a steep wooded cliff in SW Portland

Portland Fire & Rescue was responded to a rope rescue situation off SW Terwilliger just south of OHSU earlier this evening. A victim was located and brought up to the street using a low angle rope system and transported to the hospital for medical evaluation. 

At 9:20 PM on June 6, 2024, PF&R was dispatched to a victim down a cliff between SW Terwilliger and SW Barbur near OHSU. The information available to the responders regarding the location of the victim was a bit unclear with no exact information on location available - only “on a steep slope below SW Terwilliger and above SW Barbur Blvd”. Crews responded to the area from a downslope position off SW Barbur and an upslope position on SW Terwilliger. The victim, still on the line with the dispatch center, was able to communicate he could see the lights of the responding units below on SW Barbur Blvd. This information caused the technical rescue team from Station 1 traveling along to stop and establish command down below. With thick vegetation and no available lighting, locating the victim was difficult. The victim was trying to use the light on his phone for directional assistance along with yelling to capture the attention of the rescuers who were now hiking upslope in the attempt of locating the victim. The next attempt to locate the victim was to have the rescue branch officer contact the individual on the phone while eliminating all lights from the rigs down below except the command engine in hopes of gaining a better directional clue with a single flashing light as a guide.

As the rescuers were working their way up the slope from SW Barbur, two engines were driving up top along SW Terwilliger as this was the road the victim indicated they had left earlier. One of the upslope crews heard the victim making noises and began to communicate back and forth. At this time the operation moved from being focused on a rescue from the lower roadway to the elevated SW Terwilliger position. The location of the victim was approximately 70’ down the slope with a steep retaining wall of 20’ at the top of the grade. 

With the location being pinpointed, rescuers moved down the slope using ropes anchored to the rigs up top to assess the patient and plan the extrication up the slope. The victim was reported to be a large individual with an injury to the hip and lower leg and would require complete assistance to return to the road grade level. It was decided to use a low angle rope system, which aids in the safety of the victim and crews while moving a packaged patient up slope in uneven terrain. A chainsaw was employed to clear a large path through the brush while the victim was lifted into a rescue basket. With the path cleared and the victim safely secured, a team of 8 firefighters carried the loaded rescue basket with the help of another 6 firefighters pulling the rope at the top of the slope as a haul team.  There was a specialized tool used at the top of the rope system that ensured the rope would not slip back down the slope assuring all upward elevation gained with each step and pull would be maintained. The victim was moved safely from their found location to the bottom of a pair of ladders that had been placed at the retaining wall for firefighters to ascend and descend. There was discussion at this point to transfer the rescue basket to an elevated winch located on the crane of a rescue rig, but the rescuer team was certain they could get the victim safely to the street by continuing with the two teams of firefighters working together. The team carefully continued the haul up the ladders and safely transferred the victim over the railing onto the waiting ambulance gurney at 10:31 PM. The patient was transferred to the hospital for medical evaluation. The extent of any injuries of the victim is unknown.

PF&R would like to that the dispatchers and BOEC and Portland Police for their assistance in this call.

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