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Montana arborists train for rescues, in case of someone injured in the trees

Posted: 3:51 PM, Jul 20, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-20 17:51:14-04

HELENA –  Professional arborists from around Montana got training Friday on what to do if someone is injured while working in the trees.

About 20 people took part in aerial rescue training at the Fort Harrison VA Medical Center. The event was presented by the Association of Montana Turf, Ornamental and Pest Professionals and the International Society of Arboriculture’s Rocky Mountain Chapter.

Instructor David Stice, a technical consultant with WesSpur and Ascension Group Northwest, taught the arborists about how to set up ropes and pulleys to lift a rescuer up to an injured person stuck in a tree, then bring them both safely down.

Representatives from the Fort Harrison VA Fire Department talked to them about how they can assist first responders in an emergency situation, including what information they need to gather when someone needs medical attention.

Stice said working in trees always creates risks, so it’s important for arborists to be ready to react in case of a serious injury.

“The most important thing is understanding, getting up there and making patient contact, completing the rescue if need be, and then dealing with what we call ‘stop-and-fixes’ – taking care of a massive hemorrhage, stabilizing c-spine, treating for shock,” he said. “Getting them down on the ground, that’s the critical thing. The fire service can’t do much for them in the tree; we need to get them down where the tools are.”

He said emergency responders will take the lead when they arrive, but arborists can still provide important assistance.

“We’re a resource because we have the specialized knowledge and techniques that are unique to our climbing systems,” he said. “We can be an interface, answer questions for the fire department and assist if need be – because not all of the fire departments have the capability to climb a tree, so they may need to utilize the arborist to get their rigging up in the canopy.”

The participating arborists included city employees and those with private tree-care companies. They came from around the state, including Helena, Great Falls, Missoula and Bozeman.

This training took place at the VA because the organizing groups already have a relationship with the agency. For the last two years, they have volunteered to provide tree care services for the hospital through the Saluting Branches program. They will again be working on the trees at the VA on Sept. 18.

Johnathon Amberian – MTN News