Paratroopers hung up in trees are rescued by fire department

Hastings fire in Alaska, 5-31-2011. Two smokejumpers approach landing zone in clearing. Photo: Mike McMillan

Smokejumpers occasionally get hung up in trees, but they are trained to use the rope they carry to lower themselves to the ground. But two military paratroopers had to be rescued by fire departments after they landed in trees near Rainier, Washington Thursday afternoon. Neither was injured. Here is an excerpt from an article in The News Tribune:

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord fire department used a ground ladder to retrieve a male paratrooper who was stuck more than 30 feet in the air. But they had to wait for the Thurston County Special Operations Rescue Team to rescue the female paratrooper, who was between 70 and 75 feet off the ground, Lacey fire battalion chief Steve Crimmins said. The team includes firefighters from six fire agencies equipped and trained for rescues on steep slopes and in trenches, collapsed buildings and trees.

Firefighters were able to position a ladder truck close enough to get the female paratrooper.

I have never heard of a smokejumper that was rescued by a ladder truck.

And speaking of smokejumpers, the U.S. Forest Service smokejumpers who have always used the traditional round parachute, are transitioning to the square chute like the Bureau of Land Management has been using for a long time. Some jumpers are receiving training now on the “new” chute in preparation for the upcoming fire season.

Hastings fire in Alaska, May 31, 2011. Two smokejumpers approach landing zone. Photo: Mike McMillan

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+

10 thoughts on “Paratroopers hung up in trees are rescued by fire department”

  1. Actually USFS smokejumpers have been transitioning to squares since 2008. That’s when the first group of them came up to AFS for new man Ram-Air training. There are roughly 30 R1 jumpers on Ram-Airs now.

    1. Actually, USFS smokejumpers started experimenting with ram-airs in the mid-80’s. At that time, a handful of Redmond spotters got qualified on the BLM’s Goliath canopy but were not permitted to jump fires with it. I was one of 8 R6 jumpers who got qualified on the BLM’s Quantum square in 1991. We had completed 14 ram-air training jumps and were on the jump list in late May waiting to jump fires with our squares when Billy Martin was killed jumping a square in R1. The USFS shut down the Quantum evaluation after Billy’s death and didn’t really start looking into squares again until a few years ago.

  2. Billy Martin was killed in the Line of Duty on May 31, 1991in Missoula. He rookied in LaGrande in 1979.

    David Liston was killed in the Line of Duty on April 29, 2000 in Fairbanks during refresher training. David rookied in Fairbanks in 1998.

    The Liston accident report was published on the web when it came out.

  3. Thanks for posting that, Bill. I had forgotten there was another malfunction on that load.

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