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PTA and HVNP Partner to Conduct High-Angle Rope Training

By Tiffany DeMasters
March 11, 2022, 2:46 PM HST
* Updated March 12, 10:35 AM
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Pōhakuloa Training Area posted pictures on social media Friday, March 11, of PTA firefighters and first responders with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park participating in high-angle rope rescue training.

The training took place on Feb. 22-25. 

High-angle rescue training (PC: PTA Facebook)

HVNP brought in instructors from Colorado and California who have extensive experience in these types of rescues. High-angle rescue uses ropes and climbing devices to both raise and lower rescuers as well victims from hard-to-reach locations, the PTA Facebook post reads. The participants practiced descending into the Kīlauea Caldera from the Rim Trail and learned about rigging anchors using trees, rocks and other methods.

“This training will increase PTA’s rescue capabilities in the event first responders have to make a high-angle rescue, like on Mauna Kea,” the post states.

Lt. Col. Kevin Cronin, commander of U.S. Army Garrison at PTA, said the last time PTA first responders employed a high-angle rescue was in December.

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“Someone on Maunakea slid over the edge several hundred feet,” Cronin told Big Island Now. “They were covered in snow, it was sunset time.”

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Cronin recalled the conditions were difficult and PTA firefighters set up a rope rescue system to get down to the victim. With the help of Hawai‘i Fire Department, they successfully brought the woman back to higher ground safely.

“Doing these trainings with first responders islandwide it builds relationships,” Cronin said. “It makes the crisis response that much more effective.”

PTA conducts training with first responder agencies islandwide.

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“We’re really thankful to the park for including us,” Cronin said of last month’s training. “We were able to learn the latest techniques and develop the confidence to do these rescues on our own.”

PTA is the first responder in the Saddle Region – including Daniel K. Inouye Highway, Maunakea and Mauna Loa – a size of nearly 500 square miles. 

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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