Islands' Sounder


Thank you to Orcas Fire and Rescue | Letter

February 27, 2013 · Updated 4:32 PM

There are hardly words enough to express the thanks and gratitude I have for Orcas Island Fire/EMS for coming to rescue me on Friday, Feb. 8.

Firefighter and rescue tech Rich Harvey did what he trains for. He took charge of the rope team, kept assuring me, then rappelled down from above to cut me loose and saved my life in the mine shaft on Mt. Constitution. I had been hanging upside down in the dark with only a rope around my right leg and left ankle, taking all my weight and cutting off all circulation to my legs.

I was hanging upside down for more than two hours, screaming in the worst pain in my life until I was horse and starting to black out. I literally wanted to cut the rope to stop the pain, but that alternative was to drop straight down head first.

Along with my friend who called 911 and Harvey and all the other Fire/EMS who came when I needed them, THANK YOU. I knew better. I’ve been around lots of mine shafts before. Stay away and stay alive. Even with my prior rock climbing, swimming in the cold waters around Orcas, adventuring and emergency medical/rescue training, I could not overcome the physical and emotional drain that came on so fast. I’ve been lucky one more time in my life. I still think life is meant to be challenged and lived to its fullest. But be well prepared, think and check your (my) ego at the door! The next time you see an Orcas Fire/EMS member and especially Rich Harvey, give them a pat on the back, because they’ll always have yours.

Damien Stark

Orcas Island

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