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Cliff rescuers honored

April 16, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

Shelley Nicole Roush was awake for every minute of her ordeal that began June 25 when she plunged 70 feet while rappelling at Annapolis Rock on the Appalachian Trail.

"I was aware of people all around me, helping me," Roush said Wednesday from her residence hall at Penn State University, where she is a junior in therapeutic recreation.

Now almost fully recovered from her injuries, Roush will meet those rescuers again today under different circumstances at a ceremony honoring them at the Towson Center at Towson University.

Highlighting the team approach to trauma care, the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore is awarding the Shock Trauma Hero Award to 12 Washington County residents and 18 others who coordinated the rescue and treatment of Roush that day.

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"When we first got the call, I took all the information I could get ... the caller had a cellular phone, wasn't from around here and didn't know where she was," said Robbie Kefauver, a Washington County 911 operator who got the first call that hot summer afternoon.

The caller, who also didn't know her cellular phone number, called back a few minutes later and talked to another 911 operator, Shawn Hartsock, who got a detailed description of Roush's injuries, Kefauver said.

Roush, of Mt. Lebanon, Pa., had broken her pelvis, both arms and legs, and suffered chest injuries, including a ruptured aorta. She was flown by Maryland State Police helicopter to the Baltimore area trauma center.

She fell while she was rappelling down rocks during a climbing exercise, according to a Maryland Department of Natural Resources officer.

Roush, a counselor at Camp Louise, a girls' camp in northern Washington County, was hiking the trail with three other counselors and eight campers, Park Service Sgt. Angela Olah said.

The call for help came in shortly after 10 a.m.

Roush said her left wrist and right thigh bone continue togive her trouble, but she was well enough to go back to school last fall.

And she said she will go to Towson, Md., for today's ceremony. "I'm really thrilled to be going," she said Wednesday.

In addition to Kefauver, Hartsock and Olah, awards will go to Bardona Woods, Mary Jane Blickenstaff, Tim Gargana, Sgt. Richard Roche, Kyle Crutchley, Brian Lowman, Ranger Brenda Rohrback, Dave Hays and Steve Schultz.

"I was in charge of the rescue operation that day," Schultz said. "Bobby Harsh and I were the first paramedics to get down to her."

Harsh, a Williamsport native, is a trooper with the Maryland State Police in Frederick, Md., who works aboard medevac helicopters.

"We had to hike down and then we assessed her condition," Schultz said, recalling how hot and humid it was that day. "I was surprised she was conscious due to her severe injuries."

Too close to the cliff for the helicopter to fly, the entire rescue was handled by hand.

Hays, the Williamsport Ambulance chief and a 911 operator, was on his day off when he responded to the call.

Annapolis Rock is in a rural backpacking, camping and rock-climbing area two to three miles from the intersection of U.S. 40 and Interstate 70. The site is about a quarter-mile off the Appalachian Trail, and offers a spectacular view of three states.

Because the scene was on the border of Washington and Frederick counties, rescue units and medical personnel from both counties responded.

In addition to Harsh, those also to be honored today include Sgt. Jack Markey, Richard Hartle, Maryland Trooper First Class Chuck Smith, Cpl. Marvin Hold, Sharon Smith and Sgt. Gary Tracey.

"I'm just so extremely grateful to everyone who helped me that day," Roush said.

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