OLIVER SPRINGS, Tenn. (WATE) – When crews were called to Windrock Park to assist with a rescue after an ATV crashed on Saturday, it wasn’t the first time this year the Anderson County Rescue Squad responded to the park.
Terry Allen, the Anderson County Rescue Squad chief, said he’d been called to Windrock Park at least ten other times.
Allen said though, that the rescue over the weekend was the worst crash at the park he had seen in his 12 years of working with the rescue squad.
He said any rescue at the park can be tough and take a lot of time.
The first hurdle rescuers often face is finding out where the victims are, Allen said.
He said the tourism Windrock Park brings is great for the county, but tourists are often the people they need to rescue.
“They don’t know how these trails run, they don’t know what’s on the other side of some of the hills and the bluffs and stuff like this and so you can get in trouble real fast if you don’t take your time and watch,” Allen said.
The Anderson County Rescue Squad has a map of Windrock Park at its station. It highlights all 73,000 acres of the park.
Allen pointed out that about half of the park is located in Anderson County.
When the team gets called to a rescue at the park, Allen said the dispatchers are very good at figuring out the rescue location and tries to connect the team with the caller in trouble.
That’s if there is cell service.
Allen said that sometimes service is so bad, the rescuers can’t even use their radios.
If they have no radios or cell service, rescuers essentially play the telephone game. Crews find a spot with service and relay the information to dispatch and the other rescuers.
No service is one of the situations when a larger crew comes in handy, Allen said.
“Most of the time we need manpower, and we can get the equipment into them. Sometimes we just can’t have enough people,” Allen said.
He explained that, like most volunteer-based emergency agencies, the Anderson County Rescue Squad has a great team, but there are fewer volunteers than there used to be.
He said the Morgan County Rescue Squad almost always responds to an Anderson County call at Windrock Park.
Allen also said Windrock Park has an excellent security team who knows the park very well and helps with every rescue operation.
Windrock park has hundreds of trails for biking, four-wheeling, hiking and more. The trails are ranked by difficulty, ranging from easy to extremely difficult.
Allen said all the trails are marked very well, but even he can get turned around after responding to calls there for 12 years.
Rescues at night are even harder, and a rescue close to an “extremely difficult” trail could mean it’s also extremely difficult for crews to get there, Allen said.
He said he tried to take trainees to the trails so they can get familiar with the terrain and find out how easily they can get lost.
Allen said Windrock Park guests can be safe if they follow the park’s rules and pay attention to where they go.