From The New Haven Register, Sunday, March 21, 2010
It Happens Every Spring (and Fall)
With the entry of new freshman to Quinnipiac University every autumn, and with the first warm days every spring, it is almost inevitable that some yahoo will decide, sometimes after a brew or two, that it would be a good idea to scale any one of the many inviting rock climbs in the Sleeping Giant State Park, right across the street from the campus. And it is almost as inevitable that the would-be Sir Edmund Hillary will get stuck on the rocks and have to be rescued, as happened recently according to the newspaper account on the left.
This is nothing new. As early as the 19th century, climbers at Sleeping Giant have been severly injured and even killed during such ill-fated rock climbing episodes. In 1976, former Fire Chief John Tramontano (then a lieutenant) helped to organize the Hamden Fire Department Mountain Rescue Team and was its first commander. Over the years the team has conducted numerous rescues at Sleeping Giant as well as other high elevation hazards in the greater New Haven area.
In July of 1982, when John Tramontano was the Dep. Chief Training Officer, he conducted a mountain rescue training exercise at the quarry on Sleeping Giant. By then the team had well over a dozen department members and was commanded by Lt. Bill Coppola. Well over 100 slides were taken of the exercise, of which fifty are presented in a slide show below (thanks to the former chief, who donated the slides to the Hamden Fire Retirees' Association last year).
Training Exercise at the Quarry on Sleeping Giant
In July 1982, Dep. Chief Training Officer John Tramontano conducted a training exercise with the H.F.D. Mountain Rescue Team, commanded by Lt. Bill Coppola. A hiker had fallen onto the rocks at the quarry of Sleeping Giant, about 80 feet above the clearing. The goal was to reach the victim with advanced life support, stabilize and package the victim, and transport him down the rocks to the clearing below.
In addition to Dep. Chief Tramontano and Lt. Coppola, the team members for this exercise included Ff./Paramedic Ed Charbonneau, Ff. Tony Melillo, Ff. Tom Hart, Ff./Paramedic Tom Conway, Ff./Paramedic Tim O'Flynn, and Wallingford Ff. Tom Hanchuruck, who was along as an observer.
Click on the first of the 50 photos below and you can manually navigate through the slide show. You may also click to enlarge any one specific photo.
(All photos in this slide show were courtesy of John Tramontano)
CLICK to view video
On October 31, 1982, the Hamden Fire Department Mountain Rescue Team was called to Sleeping Giant State Park for three missing Branford teenagers. Fortunately, the kids turned up after police dogs located them only a short distance from the ranger station. The incident was covered by WTNH News and several of the team members, including Chick Manware, Tony Melillo, John Tramontano and Ed Charbonneau, can be seen in the news report. CLICK on the thumbnail to view the video.
October 1982 - Dep. Chief Training Officer John Tramontano, "Commander Emeritus" of the HFD Mountain Rescue Team, demonstrates a rope climbing technique during the October 1982 Fire Prevention Demonstration at the Hamden Mart. The mountain rescue team was formed in 1976 to handle the emergencies, many resulting from new Quinnipiac students attempting to climb the head at Sleeping Giant every autumn - and at other locations, too.