"I recall climbing on a clear and stable route, and have no memory of falling.
I could only attribute it to a freak accident, which can happen anytime even when things seem smooth/calm. Hence it is important that the team's emergency/rescue response is always sharp and ready. Fortunately, the team was. I felt assured when I regained consciousness. I was grateful for the team's readiness and response."
We gathered all the facts, chatted with the local expert, and investigated all the possibilities and it seems that it was a freak accident.
- The fall was around 15 to 20m but the protections are not that far off from each other.
- That means that there was a lot of slack in the rope.
- The belayer was belaying properly with normal slack.
- No protection that Jacob clipped gave way
- Jacob fell left of the climbing lane but Jacob is confident that he did not go off route
- He is also confident that he did not climb past the anchor
- We saw something big shooting down the wall as Jacob fell. It could be that a rock dislodged itself and he fell.
Basically, unless Jacob regain his memory of his fall, it is quite impossible to figure out what happened
What we felt that we did well
During the preparation phase:
During the accident:
- All members of the team were trained and proficient in self-rescue and hauling rescue practices.Therefore, everyone was capable of completing any tasks required during the climb.
- We stashed our gear at the base of the climb beforehand, so we weren't too tired.
- We had access to local information and beta on the route.
- We made contact with key people in the village and had their contact information.
- The presence of two teams of climbers facilitated the rescue process.
- Dispatching a swift and lightweight climber without a backpack proved beneficial in reaching the casualty promptly.
- Each member of the team performed their duties proficiently while remaining composed and focused.
- The drone provided us with swift visuals of the injured party.
- We carried communication devices and utilized them throughout the team to convey messages efficiently.
- We contacted our support and informed the next of kin in a timely manner.
- The assisted and tandem abseil technique was precisely what was necessary and executed flawlessly.
- We continuously assessed the patient's condition and securely restrained them while descending through the jungle.
- We delegated tasks effectively by having some team members stay back to handle logistics while others accompanied Jacob.
- We made sure to keep NOK informed and updated throughout the rescue process.
- Sending two team members to assist Jacob allowed us to efficiently manage multiple tasks, such as communicating with the doctor, acquiring necessary funds, and contacting the NOK.
What we could have done better
During the preparation phase:
During the accident:
- To improve our rope management skills, we need more deliberate practice at the stance. During the rescue, there were some rope entanglements that had to be dealt with, which delayed the process.
- We also need to practice tandem abseil and Y-hang techniques. It took us some time to figure out the most efficient rigging for the situation. For example, I had my belay device rigged to connect the injured person below me, but a Y-hang would have been more ideal with the injured person in front of the rescuer. Additionally, my hands needed to be high up on the belay device to activate the lower, which made it difficult to control the casualty's movement.
- To be better prepared for emergencies, we should have a bag ready with essential items like spare cash and team passports. We had everyone's passport details, but we did not have the NOK's contact details or travel insurance policy number and document. It would have been ideal to have all this information readily available.
Having a credit card activated for overseas spending is a must to pay for emergency bills that our spare cash might not cover.
- It's also helpful to have local data packages or roaming packages to coordinate the rescue effectively. If the people with those services had been injured, the rescue would have been more complex.
- We had the key contact information of the person to contact in case of emergency, but not everyone had those numbers readily available. We should have shared those contact details beforehand to ensure everyone had access to them.
- Finally, we had a first aid kit for each team, but we did not know what was inside the other team's first aid kit. It took us some time to figure that out during the evacuation.
- X was sent up in a hurry without a proper gear check, resulting in the realization that his belay device was left at the belay station only when he was 10m up the wall. Fortunately, we knew he could improvise with a munter hitch.
- Jacob's bag was in disarray with things dangling around. We did not immediately pack his bag properly or clean his harness rack to prevent it from getting caught on anything. This should have been done earlier.
- Our two ropes have very similar colors, which caused unnecessary confusion during the rescue.
The NOK wanted to transport Jacob back to Singapore immediately, but there were certain logistical challenges that needed to be addressed first. In order for Jacob to be transported back to Singapore, an ambulance from Singapore had to be arranged to pick him up from the hospital in Malaysia, provided that a doctor's memo was obtained. It was not possible for an ambulance from Malaysia to transport Jacob directly to Singapore, due to certain regulations. These logistical details were unknown to me before the situation arose, and I had to navigate them on the spot.