Emergency personnel rescue hiker during sub-zero temps

Information provided by Piney Volunteer Fire Department


At approximately 3 p.m., Jan. 16, 2024, Piney Volunteer Fire Department, Fall Creek Falls Fire Department, Fall Creek Falls State Park, and Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a lost person off the park road, near the north entrance of Fall Creek Falls State Park. Personnel arrived and found tracks in the snow leading into the woods. The tracks were followed to the bluff line overlooking Cane Creek Gorge.

Due to the steep terrain, deep snow, and frigid conditions, rescue personnel were called back to rehab. Tennessee Highway Patrol was requested to fly the area with their FLIR thermal imaging camera. The THP helicopter responded to the area and found the subject. Personnel were quickly dispatched to respond to the location. It took a crew of park rangers over an hour to hike into the location.

After a location was confirmed, rescue personnel from Dunlap Fire Department, Chattanooga Cave and Cliff, Putnam County Rescue Squad, Sparta-White County Rescue Squad, Warren County Rescue Squad, Sequatchie County Emergency Management Agency, and rangers from many state parks across Tennessee assisted at the scene. The patient was down a 700-foot bluff that required a couple of rope systems to be set up for hauls.

The rescue personnel worked together to set up the systems and man the ropes. People were also swapped out, when possible, to allow for rehab and warming themselves. The extremely cold temperatures and deep snow hampered rescue efforts. The temperature was recorded as low as minus-13 degrees Fahrenheit.

The patient was brought to the top of the escarpment (a long, steep slope, especially one at the edge of a plateau or separating areas of land at different heights) and carried out to meet a vehicle to be transported to an ambulance. The last rescuer made it to the top of the bluff around 8 a.m.

One rescuer was treated at a local hospital for mild hypothermia.

Everyone from Van Buren County E-911 Dispatch to all the people who responded did an excellent job. Many thanks to everyone who helped.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here