It marked the first high-angle technical rope rescue performed by the NHRFR's Rescue One squad, which was brought into service two months ago.
According to NHRFR Chief Edward Flood, it has still not been determined what the unidentified man was doing on the hillside and how he fell, but it could be that he was one of the homeless people that have been rumored to be living among the Palisades for the last few years.
"We received a call last Friday morning that a man had fallen in the cliffs below Hamilton Park Plaza, just a little south of the park," Flood said. "The man was obviously injured, so we dispatched the Rescue One of our Rescue Task Force to the scene."
The man was spotted at about 40 feet below the top of the cliffs and 170 feet from the bottom.
"When we arrived there, it appeared that he was in the early effects of hypothermia," Flood said. "He wasn't coherent and wasn't making much sense. He was shivering and it was pretty damp that day."
The wet, slippery conditions made rescuing the injured man more difficult.
NHRFR Captain David Flood, who is no relation to the chief, was one of the 21 rescue One members who responded to the call.
"The first rescuer went down and made the initial patient assessment," David Flood said.
Firefighter Peter Mancini was the first to reach the victim, followed by Firefighter Peter Ellerbrock. Both have emergency medical technician training that was vital in the rescue.
"When Peter Mancini reached the victim, he was sitting up and breathing on his own, so we knew he wasn't in critical condition," David Flood said. "The major concern was hypothermia. We had no idea how long the man was there, but he had to have been there for quite a while."
Mancini and Ellerbrock then managed to secure the man in the rescue stretcher and the unit used the pulley rope system to raise him to safety. The man's back and arm were stabilized before he was lifted. His arm was bloodied and appeared to be broken.
Firefighters Gary Menitto and Scott Marione were also instrumental in the rescue, according to David Flood.
"Everyone did their job," David Flood said. "The team performed well. All the training we had over the last 18 months was put to use. We actually trained at that location, but we can't say that it was a routine rescue, because of the newness of the task force."
Because of the man's injuries, it is not believed that the man fell from the top of the Palisades. He more likely was maneuvering through the tough hill and trees when he slipped and fell.
"People don't necessarily walk the hillside for their health," David Flood said. "We know that there are homeless people in there and our level of awareness is heightened because of the homeless."
After the nearly two-hour rescue, the man was transported to the Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen for treatment. He was admitted, but his status was unknown because his name has never been released. Officials believed that his injuries were not life threatening.
"This was one of the most demanding types of rescue and our firefighters should be commended for their work," Edward Flood said. "It took skill and courage. As a result of their training, they were able to do a tremendous job and save the man's life. It was our first technical rope rescue and it was successful."
David Flood said that it was rewarding to be able to save the man's life. "It's what we were trained to do," he said. "To put the training to practice and then accomplish it is a good feeling. We all pulled together to get the man up."