11 December 2011. It was almost noon on a Sunday. Crew A was on weekend duty. It had been a fairly uneventful weekend; that was until Engine 511 and Ambulance 511 are dispatched to the Manassas National Battlefield Park to an injury for a rider that fell off of a horse.
The caller was telling communications that they were on the Battlefield. Unfortunately the Battlefield covers 5,073 acres. This was going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack. As communications kept questioning the caller the search area was being narrowed. It was finally determined that the victim was in the southwest quadrant of the Battlefield. This area is bounded by Groveton Road to the west, Lee Highway to the north, Sudley Road to the east, and Interstate 66 to the south.
Additional questioning determined that the caller and injured rider had parked their horse trailer near some monuments and a cemetery. That would put them near the New York Monuments and the Groveton Cemetery. Knowing the area that was involved and the conflicting information being provided, Engine 511 requested Truck 511 and Medic 511 be dispatched to assist. It was now reported the victim was unconscious.
Engine 511 took a position off New York Avenue, the location of the New York Monuments, and the crew started walking into the Battlefield. Ambulance 511's crew made contact with people that knew the victims approximate location. Truck and Medic 511 were directed to enter the Battlefield off Chinn Ridge. Ambulance 511 followed the Truck and Medic in. Once the units reached the end of Chinn Ridge they were pointed in the direction of the victim down in a wooded area some distance away.
The Engine crew, after checking with joggers and other horse riders they passed as they were walking, was finally able to ascertain the location of the victim. As the Engine crew was getting closer to the victim, the Ambulance crew had started hiking in from Chinn Ridge. The Truck crew started toward the victim bringing with them the Stokes basket. The Engine crew had finally reached the victim some 45 minutes after the call to 911. They immediately determine that the victim would need to be flown to a trauma center. Upon falling from the horse the victim struck their head on a tree with enough force to remove a substantial amount of bark from the tree. Fortunately the victim was wearing a helmet otherwise the Engine crew could be looking at a fatality.
Before the Truck crew could start out with the Stokes, the crew would be split. The Truck officer and one of the Truck firefighters would set the landing zone up for the helicopter. The Truck operator and the other Truck firefighter would now have to carry the Stokes in.
The Engine had finished assessing the victim as the Ambulance crew approached on foot. The victim was placed on a backboard the Ambulance crew had carried in with them. A park ranger had managed to get an SUV into the dense wooded area. As the victim was being secured to the backboard the Truck crew arrived with the Stokes. The victim was placed in the Stokes and carried to the ranger's vehicle. The Stokes was the placed in the rear cargo area of the SUV. The Engine operator and Ambulance OIC would accompany the victim to the landing zone. The park ranger provide as smooth of a ride as possible considering the terrain between them and the landing zone.
The remaining crew members from the Engine and Ambulance along with the two crew members from the Truck would have to get out the same way they got there; by walking. The helicopter arrived within two minutes of the ranger's vehicle making it to the landing zone. Medic 511 assessed the victim as the helicopter was landing. The victim was transferred from the Stokes to the helicopter cot.
The crew members that were on foot reached the landing zone area as the victim was placed inside the helicopter. All the equipment and apparatus was made ready for service. One problem remained, the Engine crew was at Chinn Ridge and the Engine was over on New York Avenue some three miles away. Battalion 501Z and Battalion 591 transported the Engine crew back to the Engine.
The Engine crew, carrying their EMS gear, walked approximately 1.5 miles to reach the victim. The Truck and Ambulance crew, carrying their EMS gear, backboard, and Stokes Basket, walked approximately 1 mile. The walk to the landing zone was approximately 1.5 miles. In all, the Engine crew covered around 3 miles having to cross Young's Branch twice. They were wet, muddy, and cold. The Truck and Ambulance crew covered about 2.5 miles.
This operation was successful because the public safety communications continued working to narrow down the victim's location; the crews questioned other horse riders and joggers; the necessary equipment was carried to the victim, the park ranger gaining as close access as possible in the SUV; the command operation that oversaw the operation; and most importantly the team work by everyone involved.
The photos taken at this incident were only taken after the victim safely reached the landing zone.
E511, A511, T511, M511,
BC501Z, BC591, National Park Service
Overview of the SW quadrant of the Manassas National Battlefield Park
All of the Stokes Basket rigging had to be removed to carry the Stokes to the victim. Truck firefighter in training York re rigs the Stokes Basket readying it to be returned to service.
Ambulance Orski returns equipment to the Ambulance.