The Black Hills: beautiful and dangerous

Rescue teams spend the week training in the event of an emergency
Rescue teams practice rope rescue at Falling Rock outside of Rapid City.
Rescue teams practice rope rescue at Falling Rock outside of Rapid City.(Aleah Burggraff)
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 5:47 PM MDT
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BLACK HILLS, S.D. (KEVN) - The Black Hills are beautiful, but one wrong move and they could become dangerous.

That’s where rescue teams come in.

The Rapid City Fire Department, South Dakota Task Force 1 and Rapid City/Pennington County Water Rescue are spending the week rope training in the Black Hills to prepare in the event that their skills will be needed to save a life.

“It’s important for us to come out to these locations where we do have frequent calls and just kind of run through preplanning the specific areas that we do respond to and just get that knowledge and practice,” explained Eric Hansen, Lieutenant at Station 3 Rapid City Fire Department.

What they’re practicing is rope rescue.

This rescue method is used in various emergency situations whether they occur off the side of a cliff, over a building, or down a steep slope in the wilderness.

“We’re just going through an array of different skills that are used in all sorts of different rope rescues,” said Hansen.

The rope rescue technician course takes 40 hours to complete and includes quarterly team training exercises so responders know how to approach the emergency situation.

“As we’re called to these, we look for a location of a victim, our best access to them, how were going to stabilize them, and then how are we going to get out of that situation and stabilize them,” explained Hansen.

Although rope rescuing is utilized, Hansen said they fortunately don’t have to use it often.

“It’s something that isn’t high frequency, rope rescues, but they are a high-risk skill that we do,” said Hansen.

Training can be tough for some as not everyone is a fan of heights.

“It’s not uncommon to have students in the class that are afraid of heights,” Hansen said with a laugh, “but we start off slow and work our way up to the bigger stuff.”

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