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Member Introduction - Beth Elliot

posted Jan 24, 2015, 3:04 PM by CHC Rescue Service   [ updated Feb 24, 2015, 3:03 PM ]

I started caving in TAG in 1971 and went down my first pit with Gerald Moni as my mentor. But it was Buddy Lane who introduced me to the deep pits of TAG and let me tag along on a caving trip to Mexico. I got my first SAR training when I began working for the National Park Service in 1973 and joined the Walker Co., GA Cave team in 1974. My first contact with CHCRS was in Oct. 1974 when I was requested by Ed Chapin, a CHCRS officer, to help on a search for a missing person on Lookout Mountain. I was asked to rappel off a cliff where some evidence had been found and when I reached the bottom the deceased person was there. A litter was lowered and I packaged the body. I was glad when the Dade Co. coroner rappelled down to assist. When I arrived at the top with the litter, Don Black, the Captain of the CHCRS Cave-Cliff team, and Dr. Bob Clark, the team doctor, asked if I would consider joining CHCRS. I joined on April 14th, 1975, but moved away to Russell Cave two years later. When I eventually returned to Lookout Mountain I became active again with the team. At that time, a CHCRS truck was stationed on Lookout Mountain and we helped on all medical calls. The Lookout Mountain, TN Police and Fire Dept. dispatcher also did the paging and dispatch for CHCRS. Pages went out almost daily for extrication, search, multi-alarm fires, etc. in the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton Co. It has been interesting to see how over the last 40 years rescue has evolved. We used to haul litters up with our one-of-a-kind, custom-built, take-apart, hand-cranked winch made for our team by the Ernest Holmes Co. (now Miller Industries).

As Don Black moved up the ranks I was asked to become Captain of the Cave-Cliff team. I started working for other parks during the summers - 6 years in Yosemite as well as in Denali NP and the Smokies –as well as 22 years during the spring and fall fire seasons as an aerial fire observer for the Tennessee Division of Forestry and in the off-season for Pigeon Mountain Industries which evolved into more work as the company grew. While still volunteering with CHCRS and the Walker Co. cave team I served as a Lt. with the Hamilton Co. Emergency Management Command Post beginning in 1989 and that year Buddy Lane took over as Captain of the Cave-Cliff team. I also did work traveling throughout Tennessee teaching an Emergency Medical Dispatch class and when the Olympics came to the Ocoee River in '96 I was a member of the Water Rescue team for the canoe and kayak events. I guess my most memorable rescue was my own, when one day I ended up very high in a tall tree after the aircraft I was in broke apart and a ballistic-deployed parachute saved my life. I can still see Buddy, Dennis, Butch, Doc Wharton and the others arriving at the base of the tree, scratching their heads and asking "now just how did you get here first and climb that tree without a rope?" As a recipient of the services of CHCRS I am most thankful. This old geezer is gratified to see how CHCRS has grown in numbers, experience, and in an influx of exceptionally-gifted volunteers that give generously of their time and resources. The difficult and complex underground rescues of just the last few years that the team has performed with expert skill and endurance has been amazing.

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