ITHACA, N.Y. — Ithaca firefighters and members of Bangs Ambulance performed a difficult gorge rescue Thursday night after a woman fell on a trail in Six Mile Creek below the 60-foot dam in Ithaca.

The Ithaca Fire Department and Bangs Ambulance were sent to the scene around 8 p.m. Thursday. When firefighters arrived, they found the woman had fallen from a narrow trail down two ledges and struck her head, the Ithaca Fire Department said.

She sustained serious injuries and was unable to walk.

(Provided by Ithaca Fire Department)

To get to the woman, rescue crews from the IFD and Bangs Ambulance used a rope system to lower themselves into the gorge. They then began to treat her injuries. After a difficult climb out, the woman was transported by a Guthrie medical helicopter to a regional trauma center.

“Firefighters hauled the victim up to the main trail in a rescue basket using their rope system and then carried her about 100 yards to another treacherous ledge. There, a second rope system was set up to bring her and the rescuers up to the top of the trail. She was then carried out the final 100 yards to a waiting ambulance. The flight crew from Guthrie was waiting and she was airlifted to a trauma center to treat her injuries,” the IFD said in a news release.

The IFD said it was one of the more challenging rescues in some time because the trail was “extremely narrow, slick and hazardous.” The rescue was made more challenging as it began to get dark and took about two hours in total.

The Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office also assisted on scene.

As a safety reminder, the Ithaca Fire Department says, “Many of our area trails are narrow, can be very slippery and trail edges are difficult to see at night. The Ithaca Fire Department reminds people to always stay on marked trails and stay out of areas closed off to the public. Even if a trail is open, if it is too difficult to navigate, stay off it!”

It was a busy day for Ithaca firefighters. Earlier in the day, firefighters extinguished a fire at Veterinary Care of Ithaca on Court Street.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.