CARMEL, Maine –— A woodcutter who suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a tree Tuesday afternoon was the focus of a dramatic rescue operation that involved crews from several fire departments, a LifeFlight helicopter and local volunteers.
The injured man, whose name was not available Tuesday night but who was described as being in his early 60s, was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for treatment of injuries that included a crushed chest and back injuries, according to Carmel Fire Chief Mike Azevedo.
Asked whether the man’s injuries were considered life-threatening, Azevedo said, “I think so.”
Further information about the man’s medical condition was not available Tuesday night.
The accident occurred shortly after 2:30 p.m. off a narrow logging road that runs into the woods from the end of Swett Road, Azevedo said in an interview shortly after the man’s rescue.
As the man was working to cut a tree for firewood in a woodlot near Tracy Brook, the tree struck the back of the man’s head and shoulders, pinning him to the ground, Azevedo said.
Somehow, the man managed to get out from under the tree and then crawled about 50 feet to his cell phone, the fire chief said. The victim then used his phone to call a friend who was working in the woods nearby and the friend called 911, Azevedo said.
Getting the injured man from the woods into a waiting LifeFlight helicopter and then to EMMC, however, was no easy feat.
Rescuers’ first challenge was to locate the injured man, who was between a half-mile and a mile from the dead end of Swett Road. They did that through a combination of sounds and the help of dispatchers from the Penobscot Regional Communications Center, said Azevedo, who also serves as a supervisor at the center.
Rescuers honked the horn in the four-wheel drive truck they were riding in and dispatchers, who were listening through the friend’s cell phone, were able to direct them. When the rescuers got close enough, the friend also fired up his chain saw so they could follow its sound to the victim’s location in the woods off the logging road.
When emergency medical personnel found the injured man, they stabilized him, gave him some pain medication and then carefully loaded him into the bed of the truck. They then slowly drove him along the unpaved woods road to Swett Road and onto Marcho Road, Azevedo said.
There, firefighters set up an impromptu LifeFlight landing zone in a clearing across the road from Alaska to Maine Taxidermy.
Kevin Smith, who owns the taxidermy business, offered firefighters the use of his Garmin handheld GPS unit, which they used to relay the landing zone’s coordinates to the helicopter’s pilot.
Smith said he usually uses the device when hunting, fishing and finding places in the woods. Tuesday marked the first time it was used in an effort to save a life.
“It’s always good to be able to help others,” Smith said Tuesday. “Any chance you can help someone is a blessing that you receive.”
“It was very cool,” added Smith’s 10-year-old daughter, Denali, who told her father, “Let’s pray for the person inside” as she watched the helicopter take off.