A group of local rescuers and first responders spent Friday preparing for what to do in a worst case scenario by participating in technical rope rescue training on the Foothills Parkway in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
These men and women are the ones who respond to a major search and rescue or critical accident in the Smokies.
“They’re all going to be much more prepared and able to control their own stress of dealing with a life-saving situation,“ said Jamie Sanders with the park.
Friday’s purpose was twofold. Rescuers got in some practice before spring and warmer weather brings more visitors to the park. They also trained for this new stretch of Foothills Parkway that’s now open.
Their training involved two new tripod systems, an addition that will help with high angle rescues.
“We’re practicing with the tripod and how we integrate that into the systems that we already use,“ said Park Rescue Team member Joshua Albritton.
“Blount County Emergency Management, through a grant Blount County mayor Ed Mitchell actually approved for us to buy two of these units. You’re looking at well over $15,000 worth of equipment that we have here today for lifesaving equipment, so it’s a very big deal for us to have these tools,“ said Chief Don Stallions with the Townsend Area Volunteer Fire Department.
The specialized equipment is another tool in their arsenal, and park officials call Friday’s practice an important way to keep their rescue skills sharp.
The park closed off Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley for the training, but it reopened at 5 p.m.