June 18, 2018
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Helicopter helps rescue Quebec man who fell 20 feet on Katahdin trail

Brian Feulner | BDN
Brian Feulner | BDN
A fisherman casts into the West Branch of the Penobscot with Mount Katahdin in the background in this July 8, 2013 photo.
By Mario Moretto, BDN Staff

BAXTER STATE PARK, Maine — A 60-year-old Quebec man with head and spine injuries had to be airlifted off Mount Katahdin’s Dudley Trail and taken by helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center on Sunday.

The condition of the man, whose identity is not being disclosed, was unavailable Monday, but Baxter State Park Director Jensen Bissell said the man was not able to walk when park rangers arrived at the scene of the fall, and his condition at that time was “deteriorating.”

The victim did not speak English, Bissell said, which made communication with the ranger difficult. However, another hiker spoke French and was able to translate.

“That was a great help,” Bissell said. “I don’t know who that person was, but I’d really like to thank them.”

Rangers called the Maine Army National Guard’s medical evacuation team to assist with the rescue, and a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter arrived around 12:45 p.m.

Sgt. Greg Milliken, a medic with the 126th Aviation unit out of Bangor, descended from the helicopter and attended to the man before placing him in a “stokes basket,” a sort of stretcher designed to be hoisted into the air, according to the Guard.

Milliken, along with Baxter State Park staff and others who had been hiking with the man, had to carry him about 50 feet down the trail to the closest viable extraction point, Morrison said.

Dudley Trail is a 1.3-mile trek to Katahdin’s Pamola Peak, with a roughly 2,000-foot elevation gain. The park rates the trail as “very strenuous” and describes it as “short, but very steep.”

The rescue was the third at the mountain this month. On June 12, the Bangor MedEvac unit was called to Katahdin to rescue a 22-year-old man suffering from hypothermia, bleeding and neurological issues. A 53-year-old hiker who injured her leg was rescued by a Maine Forest Service helicopter June 4.

Bissell said the park generally conducts about 40 rescue operations annually, but most of those do not require medical evacuation. He said they are often caused by hikers becoming overexerted, underestimating the amount of time a particular trail requires or getting stuck in the dark without any flashlights.

He said that in those instances, rangers are able to assist the hikers so they can leave the park on their own.

“Every rescue is different and has different characteristics,” Bissell said. “We’ve had a few helicopter evacuations, but they’re still rare for us.”

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.


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