Crown Jewel of the Red River Gorge
Muir Valley Rescue
Muir Valley Rescue is a group of volunteers who, when in the Valley, stand ready to assist with rescue operations there. With over 35,000 climbers visiting each year, the Valley experiences it's share of climbing accidents. Although rock climbing, as a sport, sees a smaller proportion of accidents than many other outdoor recreational activities, incidents involving injury do happen—in Muir Valley and throughout the world at other climbing venues.
Unfortunately, Muir Valley is located in an area of Eastern Kentucky with very limited emergency services. The local ambulance service personnel are not permitted to leave their vehicles to hike up to the remote cliffs of Muir Valley to access injured persons. The Muir Valley Rescue group exists to provide this missing first responder function by having personnel trained in wilderness first aid, search and rescue, and technical rope rescue skills available most of the time that climbers are active in the Valley.
Although there are no guarantees that members of the group will be present in the Valley when an accident occurs, when they are available, they are usually able to assess, treat, package, and transport injured climbers to an ambulance that is awaiting on the Muir Emergency Road. Since 2009 when Muir Valley Rescue was formed, there have been about 14 serious accidents and a few dozen minor injuries, all of which were quickly and efficiently attended to by members of the Muir Valley Rescue group
Muir Valley Rescue members are provided by the Friends of Muir Valley organization with a well-equipped complement of rescue gear, including litters, spine immobilization boards, cervical collars, head restraints, first aid supplies, and technical rope rescue gear. These items are located and maintained in a SAR cache building that is centrally located on the Muir Emergency Road that runs through the Valley.
Rick Weber, who is certified as a technical rope rescue instructor by both Kentucky Division of Emergency Management and Rescue 3 International, provides free instruction in rescue skills needed within the Valley to tend to injured visitors. This training is offered at no charge to Muir Valley Rescue Volunteers by Weber at the Muir Valley Rescue Training facility, which is also utilized for courses in rescue skills offered by the Kentucky Fire Commission, Kentucky Emergency Management, and Rescue 3 International.
It is important to note that as a volunteer initiative, the persons who participate in Muir Valley Rescue activities are essentially doing so as Good Samaritans. They have no obligations to help in rescues and do so only at their own discretion and perform up to the limits of their abilities and training certifications. These kind souls include many climbers who are trained as medical doctors, nurses, wilderness first responders, technical rescuers, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics. This is, by no means, a formal organization. The Muir Valley Rescue initiative and its members are simply and generously acting as "climbers helping climbers" in the event of an accident.