June 20, 2018
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Uptick in accidents in Acadia puts stress on rescue personnel

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — In the most recent of several serious accidents in the park in the past few weeks, a Massachusetts woman was injured Tuesday when she fell over a cliff and landed on the rocks below.

According to Ranger Richard Rechholtz, Simonetta Raffioni, 51, of Lexington, Mass., fell from a cliff off Ocean Drive near the rear entrance to Black Woods campground Tuesday afternoon.

Raffioni was out of sight of her husband and children, and although she remained conscious, she suffered pelvic and spinal fractures and had a large laceration on her head, Rechholtz said. Several emergency medical personnel were on hand, including an off-duty paramedic and an emergency room doctor on vacation, in addition to the paramedic with the Mount Desert ambulance service.

Rescuers used a full-body vacuum splint and, with a dozen rangers and members from MDI Search and Rescue, were able to hand up the litter without the use of ropes.

The waiting ambulance took Raffioni to Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor and she later was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. No information was available on her condition Wednesday.

Rechholtz said that during the recent stretch of sunny weather, a large number of visitors have come to the park, and with more people, there has been an increase in the number of accidents.

According to Rechholtz, in the past two weeks rangers have responded to six calls that involved serious injuries including several that required taking the victims by LifeFlight to EMMC.

The accidents, including falls and bicycle accidents on hiking trails and the park’s Carriage Trails, have resulted in a fractured neck, broken back and ribs, and a skull fracture, among other injuries, according to Rechholtz. Several of the accidents have been in more remote areas of the park where rescue teams had to carry out the victims.

Such accidents require the response of a large number of people, including park staff and members of the MDI-SAR, Rechholtz said.

“A carry-out on the Precipice Trail involved 18 rangers and MDI-SAR; they eat up a lot of personnel,” he said. “We’ve been able to handle it so far; but we don’t normally get this many accidents with such serious injuries. We’ve been lucky that we haven’t had two at the same time.”

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