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Wash. FFs rescue injured woman down muddy embankment

Rope rescue work in Clark County by several departments saved a homeless woman who had fallen 30 feet

By Becca Robbins
The Columbian

CLARK COUNTY, Wash. — Rescue crews helped an injured woman back to safety after she fell down an embankment Thursday morning on Northeast Hazel Dell Avenue, just north of Vancouver city limits.

The 43-year-old woman, whose name was not released, was taken to an area hospital for treatment of injuries that were not considered life-threatening, according to Dave Schmitke, a spokesman for Clark County Fire District 6.

Fire District 6 responded at 6:58 a.m. to a call for a fall at Hazel Dell Avenue and Alki Road.

While those types of calls are common for the agency, Schmitke said the response quickly became challenging.

Fire crews arrived to find the woman — a resident of a nearby homeless encampment — had fallen down the muddy hillside and was unable to move. They learned the woman had fallen elsewhere days prior, and she was in a great deal of pain Thursday morning, according to Schmitke.

The Vancouver Fire Department and Clark County’s Technical Rescue Team, a regional team that comprises Fire District 6, Vancouver Fire and Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue, also responded.

Rescue crews secured the woman to a backboard, Schmitke said, and used a rope system to haul her up the embankment.

Schmitke said the rescue operation took about an hour; he called it a team effort.

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