Search and Rescue

When rescue teams found James Clark on Mount Washington’s Lion Head Trail at 1:15 a.m. on June 14, 2019, the 80-year-old Dublin, Ohio, resident was barely clinging to life. The day before, Clark had set out with his two teenage grandsons on what was supposed to be a day hike to the summit of New…

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Dr. Tom: If I encounter someone in the backcountry showing signs of hypothermia, what should I do? Anyone who enjoys the Northeastern outdoors should possess basic knowledge in recognizing and treating hypothermia. While we sometimes think about hypothermia as a winter problem, it can set in any time of the year. There have been documented…

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If a hiker, skier, or cyclist is seriously injured in New Hampshire, Vermont, or Western Maine, there’s a good chance they’ll be cared for by Dr. Thomas Trimarco. An attending emergency department physician, Trimarco is the emergency medical services director for Dartmouth–Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.—the North Country’s only level 1 trauma center. He…

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In August 2010, AMC Director of Huts and Pinkham James Wrigley received a call that a young hiker was in critical condition after falling hundreds of feet down steep sloping rock. The teen had been hiking on the Huntington Ravine Trail of Mount Washington, one of the most challenging and dangerous trails in the White…

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This story was originally published in the Summer/Fall 2018 issue of Appalachia Journal. Pam Bales left the firm pavement of the Base Road and stepped onto the snow-covered Jewell Trail to begin her mid-October climb. She planned a six-hour loop hike by herself. She had packed for almost every contingency and intended to walk alone….

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The Swiss Miss Fire started on a hot August day in 2017. Deep in the 100-Mile Wilderness, 300 feet from the Appalachian Trail, someone had stopped to make cocoa on Columbus Mountain. “It was in one of those high, dry areas where you get deep layers of decayed leaf matter and moss,” explains Steve Tatko,…

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A search-and-rescue (SAR) mission to locate a missing or injured person can involve helicopters whirring overhead, boats cruising the ocean, trucks traversing back roads, dogs tracking scents, and hikers risking life and limb in the backcountry. For organizations such as Down East Emergency Medicine Institute (DEEMI), based in Orono, Maine, another tool has become essential: drones. More inexpensively deployed than helicopters, drones can reach remote areas…

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Given their trailside access in the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF), AMC’s high-mountain huts staff are often the first responders to backcountry emergencies. Along with cooking, cleaning, and providing trail information, hut croo also serve as volunteers in search-and-rescue incidents. Virtually all AMC backcountry staff—hut croo, caretakers, and trail crew members—are certified in Wilderness First…

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The following simple items can help rescuers find you in the event of a backcountry emergency. A whistle. Shouts for help can only be heard a few hundred yards away, at best. The piercing sound of a loud whistle carries more than a mile away. What’s more, you can blow a whistle in regular bursts…

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Working at Hermit Lake Shelters, at the base of New Hampshire’s well-known Tuckerman Ravine, can be pretty cool. The upside? Caretakers spend a lot of time outdoors, and if they’re lucky, some of that time involves making first tracks on a bluebird powder day. The downside? The ravine can be downright cold, and if a…

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