Emergency crews hold technical rescue training at Mount Sugarloaf
SUNDERLAND, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Important training played out in Franklin County on Tuesday as members of the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team practiced for an emergency on top of Mount Sugarloaf.
For the second time this year, members took part in rope rescue training and, for the first-time ever, they did a session at one of the region’s highest elevations.
“The Western Mass. Technical Rescue Team provides assistance to local first responders in areas that they may not have the right equipment for or training…We’re going to be repelling down off some steep cliffs and doing a pickoff or recovery of somebody who may have fallen on a steep section of the trail,” Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team Director Daryl Springman.
Springfield said 40 members from at least 15 fire departments participated. R.J. Pensivy, Berkshire County division team leader for the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team, has been doing this kind of training for more than ten years.
“We train all over. We train in industrial sites. We train in recreational sites like this just in case we’re called up. That way, we have experience in the areas where we may be called to train,” Pensivy said.
Before going over the edge, team members received in-service training with updated equipment provided by the Western Massachusetts Homeland Security Advisory Council. Among the main work was using a practice dummy for rescues and practicing boat launches in the Connecticut River. The team coordinated with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and regional ranger Pete Michaels, who talked about how vital something like this is.
“It’s better to be prepared than to come to a place like Mount Sugarloaf that has substantially steep terrain and have never been familiarized with it,” Michaels added.
In the meantime, Michaels had this advice for hikers.
“Stay on marked trails, so you don’t get yourself in trouble. Let somebody know when and where you’re hiking, so if you don’t return, we have an idea of where we might be able to find you, and if you’re in trouble, call 911,” Michaels added.
The rescue team will have another rope rescue training session at a location to be determined in the next couple of months.
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