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2 helicopters, multiple agencies rescue Minn. man after fall off 50-foot cliff

First responders faced difficult terrain while working together to reach, package and remove an unconscious, bleeding patient


Chisago County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook

By Nick Ferraro
Pioneer Press

FRANCONIA TOWNSHIP, Minn. — A 74-year-old man who fell from a 50-foot cliff near his home along the St. Croix River in Chisago County on Wednesday is expected to survive, authorities say.

Rescuers were able to reach the man along steep terrain with a helicopter and fly him to a local trauma center, said Capt. Derek Anklan of the Chisago County sheriff’s office.

“He had injuries all over, but I don’t think there’s been any major surgeries,” Anklan said Thursday.

Emergency responders were sent to the man’s Franconia Township home around 3 p.m. after a person he was with called 911 and reported he’d fallen off a cliff and was believed to be unconscious and bleeding.

He was “just walking, from what we understand, and kind of did a continuous roll, somersault, all the way down the cliff face,” Anklan said. He ended up at the bottom of a valley.

As sheriff’s deputies and the Shafer and Franconia Fire Department arrived on scene, it was “quickly determined this would be a difficult rescue with near vertical terrain in some places,” Anklan said.

Other agencies were called to help with the rescue, including the Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls fire departments, which have specialized equipment and training in technical rescue along difficult terrain.

A Life Link III medical helicopter and the Minnesota Air Rescue Team (MART), made up of Minnesota State Patrol aviation troopers and St. Paul firefighters trained in aviation rescue, also responded.

The three fire departments worked together in rigging equipment and ropes to the man. MART then hoisted him to level ground to the awaiting medical helicopter, where he was treated for injuries and flown to a trauma center.

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