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DOC Staff Help Rescue Injured Woman

July 21, 2016

Rachel Friederich

DOC Communications

Norm Dauth and Jackie Ahrens posing for photo

CBCC employees Norm Dauth and Jackie Ahrens See photo gallery...

CLALLAM BAY – It was about 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning when Norm Dauth and Jacki Ahrens got a call to rescue a woman who'd fallen on some rocks on the beach and injured herself.

Dauth and Ahrens, who both work at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center, and are also volunteer firefighters, knew from the start it would be tricky. Dauth is a classification counselor at the prison and Ahrens is a secretary supervisor.

The woman had been fishing at a popular spot known as the Sekiu Caves when she slipped on some rocks and fell down the cliff. The firefighters carefully made their way down to the woman and stabilized her, but knew they didn't have the equipment needed to hoist her up the cliff, plus the roads were muddy and full of debris, making access by ambulance impossible.

"We weren't sure how we were going to get her," said Ahrens. "She couldn't get out on her own."

With the tide coming in fast and the window for a rescue closing, they called the U.S. Coast Guard to send in a helicopter to airlift the woman out. Plenty of trees and jagged rocks dotted the area, so getting the litter, or rescue basket, to the location would still be difficult.

"We live in an isolated area out here," Dauth said. "There was no one else. If we didn't make the call to the Coast Guard, nothing else could have happened."

Coast Guard rescuers airlifted the woman to the Sekiu Airport, where a Clallam Bay Fire Department ambulance crew took her to the Forks Community Hospital . The rescue, from the time Dauth and Ahrens arrived at the beach to when the woman arrived at the hospital, took more than four hours.

"This was a perfect example of working together for safe communities, not just for the Department of Corrections, but for every agency involved," Dauth said. "There's a big need here for people to help in the community."

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