A 25-year-old woman is in stable condition after she fell off the north trail of Barn's Bluff in Red Wing and was rescued by a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter on Tuesday.
The Red Wing Fire Department got a call reporting the accident at 9:48 a.m., and paramedics where at the scene within 2.5 minutes. Two paramedics descended the slope via ropes, bringing medical and spinal immobilization equipment with them.
Within 15 minutes, they were with the victim as the MSP helicopter came to help with the extraction. Once the rescue was complete, the woman was taken to a nearby hospital via ambulance.
The details of the woman's injuries have not been released; however, she is said to be in stable condition at a hospital in Rochester.
One paramedic suffered a minor injury from a falling rock but declined treatment.
A DANGEROUS HIKE
There are some breath-taking cliffs to be found in the area, but those who live near Barn's Bluff say some of the trails are so dicey it's not safe to hike and sight-see simultaneously.
"The north trail is for advanced hikers. That's where they go to rock climb," said hiker Butch Brent. "Very narrow, very steep, so if you fall, you've got a 200-foot drop. That's a tough one."
While the south side of the hill is literally a walk in the park, many are drawn to the more challenging route. Friends and family members who witnessed the Goodhue County woman's fall on Tuesday were among those exploring in the late morning.
"From what I understand, this lady just simply stubbed her toe on something, lost her balance and down she went," said Capt. Jim Eppen, of the Red Wing Fire Department.
The woman fell about 50 feet, stopping short of a much farther free-fall. Those familiar with the area say the trail is clearly marked as a challenging one.
"There have all the signs up there that are warning you, and you have to figure out if you can do it or not," said Val Brent. "There are rocks in the way and there are rocks that stick out, and you can fall. You can get dizzy and fall. There is nothing to hold you."
Earlier in the summer, firefighters had to rescue someone else who fell in the same area. Eppen said he hopes people will be more cautious going forward.
"If you're going to stop and look at the scenery, you need to stop and look at the scenery," he said. "Otherwise, you need to be watching your feet."
TRAINING PAYS OFF
The Red Wing Fire Department, in conjunction with the Minnesota State Patrol and St. Paul Fire Department, have spent more than a year and a half training for just such a rescue. Now, the department says that preparation paid off.
"That training paid off today," Eppen said. "We were able to get to the victim and set up a safe rescue."
Firefighters practiced this exact scenario in a drill last year because department officials knew the area would require the attention.
"We knew this was a real possibility that we were going to get into one of these," Eppen told FOX 9 News. "I'm not going to tell you this is the last time this is going to happen because it happens every now and again."
The Red Wing Police Department also assisted on Tuesday. Officers arrived to the victim before firefighters and paramedics arrived, and they helped communicate with the rescue helicopter and set up a landing zone at the nearby Red Wing Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Goodhue County Sheriff's Department also helped with the rescue.