What climber has not heard of Kalymnos? The Greek island located in the southeastern Aegean Sea, just off the coast of Turkey, is world-renowned for its many cliffs. With more than 2000 routes for all levels, Petzl RocTrip set up its base camp in Kalymnos in 2006… Even though rock climbers flock there in droves, the island had no formal rescue services for climbing accidents. Local residents called upon the Petzl Foundation to help to train them in rope rescue techniques.
An all-volunteer team
Lacking a national entity to handle cliff-side rescue on the island, the local residents decided to establish their own rescue team, with the full support and approval of the municipality. Having determined that this type of service was necessary, the island’s business owners (hotels, restaurants, sporting goods stores, etc.) joined forces to put together a land rescue team to serve tourists, climbers, hikers, and even scooter riders! Volunteers from Kalymnos now regularly participate in rescues. They form the Kalymnos rescue team, already made up of six volunteers. To finance their non-profit association, a member’s card will soon be offered to tourists and climbers. This funding will also serve to maintain existing routes as well as to develop new climbing areas.
Cliff-side rescues require specific skills
Claude Idoux, rescue volunteer in Kalymnos
Frenchman Claude Idoux, one of the volunteers and who has also lived on the island for 7 years, explains:
"I’m really glad to see that the people in Kalymnos finally have a formally structured rescue team! For the last few years I often acted alone."
Rescuer, he has already taken part in 17 rescues, including a few in very challenging conditions:
"For certain rescues, we did not even have a rescue litter at our disposal. Thanks to funds gathered by the owners of Glaros Bar, located in the village of Massouri, we have been able to purchase one. Today, with a solid commitment from Petzl and the Petzl Foundation, we finally have the right equipment and a full team who knows how to conduct rope rescues!"
A team of qualified rescuers
The first technical training clinic involved teaching the rescue team how to work in a variety of conditions, and without using specific equipment for rope rescue. After acquiring this skills base, the six volunteers finished their training, from September 17-21, 2013, by learning to master rope rescue techniques. Petzl also contributed by providing the necessary equipment at a reduced price. The trainers from Lyon Equipment, Petzl’s distributer in England and specialists in technical training, provided each team member with rope-rescue certificate validating their skills:
"These volunteers showed real enthusiasm and are clearly committed to developing a rescue team for the island," explained trainers Bill Batson and Marc Davies, both very satisfied with the result. "During the training sessions, their skills always proved to be at a very high level. After successfully passing the technical evaluation, we were proud to announce that all of the clinic participants had the right knowledge and skills to competently and efficiently handle a rope rescue in Kalymnos. We are pleased to have contributed to training and certifying the rescue team in Kalymnos; as of now we consider them to be fully operational."
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