Amherst Bulletin | Weekend hiking accident shows rescue challenges
We’ve been doing Emergency Preparedness Talks as well as hands-on Emergency Survival and Self-Sufficiency Skills Workshops for several years now. This story is a great example of why it’s important to prepare! Frank recently held the hands-on Workshop in Vermont, and here’s a quote from one of the attendees: “The biggest thing I brought away from the class was the importance of having a complete car survival/readiness kit.”
Weekend hiking accident shows rescue challenges
By Scott Merzbach
Published on January 14, 2011
A weekend rescue of a woman who broke her ankle while walking with her family on the Robert Frost Trail in the Notch area highlights the importance of being prepared, emergency responders say.
Carrying a cell phone and maps, dressing for the weather and letting friends and family know about the hiking itinerary are some of the ways to make a rescue more successful should something bad happen, Fire Chief Tim Nelson said.
“Those are all simple things that will go a long way to effect a good outcome,” he said.
The call to emergency dispatch about the injured woman came Saturday at 3 p.m. when her husband, who was accompanying her and their two children, walked about a mile to get to the Notch Visitors Center parking lot. There, he borrowed a cell phone and made the call.
While the man identified the location where his wife had fallen, based on markers along the trail, he left the parking area to return to her. This made the rescue more challenging, Nelson said, because firefighters were uncertain what equipment should be brought in, the medical supplies the victim might need and how long it would take to reach her.
“We’ll find you eventually, but we need to find you as quick as possible,” Nelson said.
When firefighters finally reached the woman, who had apparently slipped on ice and snow, they placed a splint on her foot and bundled her up. Then they loaded her onto an all-terrain vehicle and used chain saws to clear obstructions from the path. Eventually they abandoned use of the all-terrain vehicle, carrying the woman a distance before placing her in a pickup truck and finally getting her to the waiting ambulance. Firefighters cleared the scene around 6:30 p.m.
The woman was taken to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton for treatment, Nelson said.
Nelson said even though the woman and her family were experienced hikers, they should have planned better.
“These folks were familiar with the trails, but they didn’t have a map, they didn’t have a cell phone,” Nelson said. “If you’re going out on these trails this time of year, you need a way to get hold of us.”
Nelson praised the six permanent firefighters and the members of the student and call forces who responded.
He singled out Steve Chandler, a firefighter and paramedic, for excelling in the first time he has been acting officer on the scene of a response.