Students on spring break trip help rescue woman after 80-foot fall

Watch GRAB students help transport the injured woman through the woods to medical treatment.

Members of Gettysburg College’s Gettysburg Recreational Adventure Board (GRAB) recently used their wilderness training and expertise to help rescue a woman who fell 80 feet off a cliff at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky.

“Due to our students’ training, medical backgrounds, and familiarity with climbing and rescue equipment, we were well-positioned to be of assistance,” said John Regentin, director of experiential education at Gettysburg College. “This was an opportunity that presented itself, and the students used their training, jumped to action, and were able to help local authorities rescue someone in need.”

The GRAB students, who are trained as wilderness first responders, spent their spring break at the Gorge, participating in an intensive climbing program and learning about highline rescues from one of the leading authorities in the industry.

Just days before they were slated to leave the area, one of the search and rescue volunteers who had worked with them earlier in the week contacted the GRAB group to ask for their help – a woman had fallen off a cliff near an area called Indian Staircase, and the students’ unique expertise could help save her.

Immediately responding, the students got their gear ready, and hiked to the cliff with members of the local search and rescue team and paramedics. After setting up the necessary rigging, the students were able to safely rescue the injured woman from the bottom of the cliff where she had been for 15 hours, and transport her two miles through the woods so she could get additional medical treatment.

"Everybody just stepped up and did what they needed to do," said senior Ann Valentine.

"We just did what was requested of us," senior Andrew Rhoads added.

Local law enforcement lauded the students’ efforts, noting that it was one of the smoothest rescue operations they ever saw.

Earlier in the week, the GRAB group took a day away from their climbing program to assist a family that was affected by a March 2 tornado that caused damage throughout parts of Kentucky. Due to their training, the students were able to help dismantle a storm damaged house and barn for a family who had lost a member in the tornado.

The GRAB students' heroic rescue has captured media attention. For more, visit the media sites below.

WGAL 8 - Harrisburg, Pa. (with video)

Allentown Morning Call (3/20)

Harrisburg Patriot-News/Associated Press (3/20)

FOX 43 (3/20)

Gettysburg Times (3/21)

Alpharetta-Milton Patch (3/22)

Westminster Patch (3/22)

Baltimore Sun (3/24)

Chronicle of Higher Ed (3/26)

Gettysburg Recreational Adventure Board (GRAB), part of the Office of Experiential Education at Gettysburg College, focuses on active leadership through backcountry training and expeditions. The Office of Experiential Education brings to life the challenges and rewards that thoughtful preparation, active leadership, & intentional learning can have on one's personal and professional identity. In today's world, a commitment to the self, group, and institution through a shared vision is the catalyst to becoming a successful individual in an increasingly complex and globalized world.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Posted: Tue, 20 Mar 2012

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