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CUTLER, Maine — The Maine Forest Service airlifted an ailing man via helicopter Thursday from a remote section of the Bold Coast Trail to a waiting ambulance at a ball field in the nearby town.
From there, the 52-year-old Massachusetts man, who was not immediately identified, was transported to Down East Community Hospital in Machias.
The man was suffering symptoms of a diabetic stroke while hiking in a remote area of the trail east of Cutler on Thursday afternoon, reported regional forest ranger Jeff Currier. Another man, a hiking companion, called 911 and summoned assistance.
Machias volunteer ambulance personnel and firefighters arrived along with firefighters from the Navy telecommunications station in Cutler and members of the Maine Warden Service.
However, because of the remoteness of the area, it took the rescuers about three hours to reach the man, according to Currier.
“When they found him, he was unable to walk,” said Currier. The man also was experiencing difficulty speaking and seeing.
“They quickly determined he needed advanced medical care as soon as possible,” added Currier.
Emergency medical technicians contacted the Maine Forest Service to request assistance through its helicopter “short haul” program, which provides assistance for rescue efforts and transports firefighters to battle forest fires.
The Maine Forest Service helicopter arrived from Old Town about 35 minutes later with a team of two in addition to the pilot, and the ailing man was packaged in a “screamer suit” for transport, said Currier. The helicopter lifted off with the sick hiker and a forest ranger rescuer dangling beneath by a rope. The helicopter flew in two or three minutes to a field in Cutler and landed. The victim was tended to by emergency personnel and taken by ambulance to the hospital in Machias.
The entire time elapsed from when the helicopter arrived to the scene to touching down at the field near Cutler was about 15 minutes, according to Currier. Without the assistance of the aircraft, it may have taken rescuers three to four hours to transport the man — who weighed more than 200 pounds — out of the remote area to an ambulance, he noted.
The 911 call originated about 1 p.m., and everything wrapped up sometime between 4 and 5 p.m., according to Currier.
The rescue was a team effort of the Maine Forest Service, the Navy facility’s firefighters, Machias ambulance and fire personnel, and the Maine Warden Service, he said.
“We all bring something to the table. … This is how we get things done,” said Currier.