Sunday, March 22, 2020

Recent Forest Ranger Search and Rescue Missions

forest ranger logoNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the Adirondack backcountry.

What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks.

Essex County

Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On March 12 at 2:30 pm, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a group of ice climbers on the North Face of Gothics. They reported a 52-year-old man from West Point had sustained a lower leg injury and was unable to hike out. The group continued to repel down the mountain to meet Forest Rangers in the basin, a location where New York State Police Aviation could hoist the subject out if needed. Eight Forest Rangers responded to their location and at 3:50 pm, Forest Ranger Ben Baldwin was inserted by helicopter to the base of the slide. Shortly thereafter, he made contact with the climbers and monitored them as they repelled down to him. Once Forest Ranger Baldwin was with the injured man, he evaluated the injury, braced it, and prepared him for an emergency hoist. At 5:34 pm, the climber was in the helicopter with Forest Ranger James Giglinto and brought to a local hospital in Saranac Lake for further medical treatment. Forest Rangers hiked out with the remaining climbing party back to the Garden Trailhead and were cleared of the scene.

Town of North Hudson
Wilderness Rescue: On March 15, at 6:07 pm, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a concerned friend about a lost hiker in the Dix Wilderness Area. The hiker could not make a phone call but texted coordinates to advise she was lost. The coordinates were on the eastern side of Macomb Mountain, approximately three miles east of Elk Lake. Responding Forest Rangers approached from Elk Lake and the West Mill Brook drainage, while another Forest Ranger assisted on the eastern side, relaying crew information to Ray Brook. At 8:02 pm, direct text contact was established with the hiker, who stated she was in an emergency foil tent but having difficulties due to wet and frozen socks and losing the Lillian Brook trail, and was unable to locate the main Dix trail. To confirm the location, Verizon pinged the last known cell location, which was approximately 12 miles southwest of their tower on Belfry Mountain. The hiker was located by Rangers at 2:55 am, in a different area than the original coordinates. She was fed, rehydrated, and rewarmed in a sleeping bag. Four additional Forest Rangers were en route as a ground crew for extracting the hiker and Lt. Brian Dubay requested New York State Police Aviation for assistance. On March 16 at 8:17 am, the 25-year-old hiker from Glens Falls was put in the helicopter piloted by State Police Pilot Scott Kotronis who, with Forest Ranger Crew Chief Chris DiCintio, took her to a local hospital for further medical treatment.

Be Prepared: Properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety webpage and Adirondack Trail Information webpage for more information about where you intend to travel. The Adirondack Almanack reports weekly Outdoor Conditions each Thursday afternoon.

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4 Responses

  1. Steve B. says:

    These 2 incidents are early in the COVID-19 crisis, but can’t help thinking this kind of activity is going to be risky in a week, or whenever the local hospitals are jammed with Coronavirus patients and start turning away patients needing care for elective recreational activities, which they are doing in some places. I’ve curtailed the type of mt. biking I do to very easy trails I’ve done before, I don’t take risks, I ride on streets with little traffic. I’d hate to have to explain to the ER nurse that I got hurt ice climbing.

  2. Tom Vawter says:

    I do like reading the DEC Ranger Reports, and I have learned a great deal from them over the years, especially about being prepared when I enter the backcountry. The report about the rescue of ice climbers on Gothics, however, did touch a raw nerve. Friends, the word is “rappel”, not “repel” (which has a very different meaning). If you have trouble remembering the word derived from the French, try using “abseil”, derived from the German. I spent many years on a volunteer “high-angle” rescue team, and was often told to “repel” here or there. Occasionally I was asked to “make that line taunt”!

    • Roger says:

      If you were in Maine you would be told, “That line wants to be taunt” because in Maine inanimate objects have desires…(humor)

  3. Joe Bergen says:

    No one should be doing any activity that, if something goes wrong, would require rescue. We all have to dumb down our recreation and not create more problems for first responders, including their having to group together for rescues. I say this sitting in my house in the city of Buffalo, pondering whether kayaking on the Buffalo River or outer harbor is safe, and it fails the test of potentially needing rescue.

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