FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WOAY) – Some of the soul contributors of emergency service at Bridge Day since its inauguration 42 years ago, Jan Care Ambulance is ready to get to work there again this Saturday.
Not only supporting the hundreds of thousands of onlookers that make their way out to the bridge, but the EMS service also provides teams of medical personnel to give the BASE jumpers the primary care they need during the event.
Hundreds of medical workers are sent to Bridge Day, and the chance of not having enough of them on hand for the event due to the pandemic last year was the main reason for its cancellation. But they aren’t the only ones who are ready to return to the event to be of service yet again.
“The bridge itself becomes West Virginia’s largest city on the third Saturday in October,” the Director of Operations at Jan Care, Paul Seamann says.
“We’ve taken a big role in keeping everyone safe here on Bridge Day, you know, we’re expecting record crowds this year based on the fact that we haven’t done it in a couple of years,” says the District Supervisor for the New River Gorge National Park Service, Dave Bieri.
A hospital tent gets set up at the bottom near the bridge. There the EMS workers treat the jumpers that have anything from a minor scrape to the occasional and unfortunate catastrophe. There are also ambulances that wait at the bottom ready to transport them to the hospital if needed.
Around 300 jumpers are expected to take part in this year’s Bridge Day, and they come from all over the country and the world. Ten countries have sent a handful of those jumpers to be a part of the event. Jan Care looks at it as being a good host to the network of visitors who come in.
“A lot of them that want to do a double jump or want to jump more than once or twice, we bring them into the tent, we evaluate their injuries, and if it’s something that we can fix, we can clean, we will clean up their wounds, bandage them up so that they are safely able to go and do it again,” says Seamann.
But it’s not just Jan Care helping the jumpers out, Bridge Day is a collaborative effort between them, the Fayette County Verticle Rescue Team, and the New River Gorge National Park Service, among other trained emergency service personnel.
Around 30% or more jumpers often land in the water where river rangers are waiting to immediately fish them out. Some jumpers land in the trees, which is where the verticle rescue team comes in to help them out of the trees, as well.