Kern County Fire Andrew Freeborn–
Late October 19th, just before 11:00 p.m., Kern County firefighters were dispatched to rescue a person who had fallen into a vertical mineshaft. Upon arrival, firefighters investigated the scene and found three individuals in the mineshaft. Information gathered on the scene painted a scary picture. While friends and family were enjoying their time outdoors, one from the group fell into an unseen mineshaft. Two others from the group attempted to rescue their friend unsuccessfully, and they could not climb out to safety.
Firefighters started rescue operations by lifting the two individuals who had attempted to rescue their friend to the surface. They were uninjured and denied treatment and transport.
To reach the original fall victim, specially trained firefighters and equipment would be needed. At dispatch, KCFD Urban Search and Rescue 47 began responding from Bakersfield. A shuttle operation was implemented to reduce the time they would take to reach the remote desert location. As USAR 47 passed through Keene, CA, KCFD Helicopter 408 and crew were waiting. The firefighters and their equipment were weighed before climbing aboard, load calculations were completed, and H408 was launched. Back on the scene, Kern County firefighters, members of the KSCO China Lake Rescue Group SAR, and Cal City firefighters continued to make the necessary preparations for the confined space entry.
Once H408 landed, the team and equipment necessary to complete the rescue were in place. Working with a complex system of ropes, two KCFD firefighters were lowered 120’ to the patient. The patient’s condition was relayed to crews on the surface, prompting the order of Mercy Air 14 to fly to a nearby landing zone. After the patient was prepared to be lifted, haul teams above worked in the direction of the rescuers in the mineshaft, pulling the ropes and lifting all to the surface.
The patient had sustained life-threatening injuries but was immediately cared for by Paramedics waiting on the scene. The patient was taken to the landing zone nearby and then flown by Mercy Air 14 to a local hospital.