911 calls help save injured climber on Short Off Mountain - | WBTV Charlotte

911 calls help save injured climber on Short Off Mountain


People are still talking about the dramatic rescue on Short Off Mountain where an Army National Guard helicopter lowered a basket to a rock climber who had fallen and was injured stranded on a small cliff.

Jackson DePew is in good condition Tuesday night after his painful fall and injuries.

The 911 calls that initiated DePew's rescue Monday were released. People who work for Emergency Operation Center in Burke County said it took a lot of ground work and preparation to get to the point of a rescue.

It all started with two calls made to 911 almost three hours before the rescue.

In the first call, a nearby hiker who saw DePew fall is heard yelling to the injured climber, "I'm calling 911 right now, man."

"I'm on the side of the mountain and I just watched a climber take a 40 foot fall," the caller told 911 operators. "[He] had a pretty bad impact."

The caller's instinct was to help, but the dispatcher reminded him there's still danger.

"If he's hurt we don't want to move him," the dispatcher told the caller. "If he fell 40 feet he could have spinal cord injuries. We move him, we could paralyze him."

The caller wasn't close enough to touch the hurt climber, no one was. That's why a helicopter was used in the rescue.

"He's standing up now," explained the caller. He also yelled across the gap for more information. "Can you tell me what hurt's man?"

Then there's a pause. Later he relays the information.

"He said his back, hands and elbow and he hit. And I think he hit on his right side. He hit hard."

The second man to call 911 just knew his friend was hurt.

"Someone is on the way, that's great. I'm the guy that's pulleying him right now so I can't see him but I got him on the other end of my rope," the friend told dispatchers.

Even though the callers couldn't reach out and physically help the climber, they could give critical information to first responders.

"I can't see him right now. I called him on the phone and talked to him," his friend told 911 operators. "He said he's bleeding out of his hands, he lost consciousness, he could be suffering from a concussion. And he has pain in his pelvis. He seems to be in a lot pain around his hips."

The 911 calls initiated the rescue, and rescuers needed time.

"It's going to take awhile to get them staged and on the way," dispatchers told callers.

Both callers knew Short Off Mountain and where they were located on it weren't easy to get to.

The first caller gave dispatchers the address for the parking lot. And he offered to meet crews at the trail head.

A Burke County Emergency operations manager explained a dozen people had to hike to the spot with equipment and ropes. Much of the action ended up happening in the air.

Ground crews said they made that the decision to call in a helicopter based on the 911 callers' information and the location of the injured climber.

We're told there was another climber who tried to help.

The U.S. Forestry Service cited the man for interfering with the operation. The U.S. Forest Service said no one should be climbing on Short Off mountain.

The ban has nothing to do with this accident but to protect Peregrine falcons.

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