Fire crews in Hamilton performed two rope rescues on Saturday, prompting officials to tell residents to take care while spending time on or near the city's hills and cliffs.

Around 4:45 p.m., fire officials received a call about a cyclist who tumbled down part of the escarpment after riding on "unmaintained trails" just west of West 5th Street, said fire department spokesman Claudio Mostacci.

Crews lowered a basket down to the injured rider, a 19-year-old male, and then lowered him down to Beckett Drive. He was then transported to St. Joseph's hospital with "moderate" injuries, said Jay Szymanski, a commander with the Hamilton Paramedic Service.

A more dramatic rescue was set in motion around 6 p.m., when the fire department received a call about a preteen boy falling 30 to 40 feet onto rocks at the base of Albion Falls.

The child had been walking on a "landing" near the falls before he fell, Mostacci said.

Crews, he said, began a rope rescue to hoist the boy from the rocks, but then carried him to an ambulance on foot because of his injuries.

"That happened very quickly," he said, adding the operation had finished by 6:40 p.m.

The boy was taken to McMaster Children's Hospital in "critical condition," Szymanski said.

Safety tips

Mostacci said there are measures residents can take to help prevent these kinds of accidents from occurring.

He advises groups or individuals who plan to hike to wear sturdy shoes or boots. "Flip flops and summer shoes are not appropriate" for rugged terrain, he said.  

Children need to be monitored closely while walking near large drop-offs, he added.

As for mountain bikers, Mostacci said they should stick to maintained paths.

"Then at least the terrain is better suited for the bike."