Accident victim hauled from river to bridge |

Accident victim hauled from river to bridge

Firefighters were able to haul an injured woman about 90 feet straight up from the edge of the South Yuba River to the Highway 49 bridge in a highly technical rescue using an improvised lift called a “ladder gin.”

Firefighters from North San Juan and Nevada County Consolidated fire departments responded to a medical aid call on the river at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, according to dispatch reports.

The woman, who was not identified, was in the river upstream from the Highway 49 bridge, said Nevada County Consolidated Fire Capt. Pat Sullivan.

“She lost her footing and was swept downstream,” Sullivan said.

Even though the river is fairly low, the woman apparently hit several rocks, injuring her left side.

“She was assessed and we couldn’t walk her out, or hike her out in a Stokes basket, because the hill was too steep,” Sullivan said.

Because there were no helicopters available, the decision was made to do a “vertical haul” from the river’s edge up to the new Highway 49 bridge.

“It’s a little different,” Sullivan said. “It involves hooking up a ladder gin with a rope system. If you haul someone right up against the bridge, they’d get stuck. This makes it easier to get her from the basket onto the bridge.”

A two-section ladder, rigged with rope and webbing, forms a makeshift lift called a ladder gin. Ladder gins are used to lower a rescuer into a trench or raise a victim safely.

Sullivan estimated the woman, who was also attached to safety lines, was hauled between 80 feet to 90 feet from the river to the bridge. She was taken by ambulance to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, he said.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail or call (530) 477-4229.

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