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Medical issues to blame for two hikers’ rescues

Staff at Mount Monadnock and Pack Monadnock carry men down the mountains in litters; one helicoptered to Manchester

In two separate incidents, hikers who were experiencing medical issues while hiking this weekend had to carried down the mountain by litter. In one case, the patient required emergency resuscitation and airlifting to a Manchester hospital.

George Horowitz, 75, of West Newton, Mass., was hiking on White Cross Trail on Mount Monadnock on early Saturday afternoon when he began to experience chest pains, according to a press release issued by the N.H. Fish and Game Department over the weekend.

A group of hikers which included a registered nurse and a paramedic found Horowitz while he was experiencing trouble, and began to administer first aid after contacting park officials.

Usually, a helicopter would be sent to a landing zone of the summit of Monadnock, according to the press release, but due to high winds a helicopter rescue wasn’t possible. Instead, N.H. Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers, Department of Resources and Economic Development’s Division of Parks and Recreation staff and volunteers carried Horowitz down the mountain in a litter. Shortly after rescue crews arrived and Horowitz was placed in the litter, he became unresponsive. An automated external defibrillator was used and CPR was initiated. Almost immediately, Horowitz regained consciousness, according to the release.

Horowitz was taken by litter to a Jaffrey-Rindge Memorial ambulance waiting at Old Toll Road. From there, Horowitz was transported to the Grand View Inn in Jaffrey, where a Dartmouth Hitchcock Advance Response Team helicopter flew him to Catholic Medical Center in Manchester for treatment. It was at least an hour between the hiking group coming across Horowitz and his airlifting, according to Lt. Craig Morrocco of N.H. Fish and Game in an interview Monday afternoon.

In a separate incident Sunday, another hiker required assistance off Pack Monadnock Mountain in Peterborough, after he reportedly began experiencing abdominal pains and labored breathing while hiking the Marion Davis Trail.

Paramedics later determined Braczyk had suffered some sort of cardiac event, according to a press release issued Sunday. N.H. Fish and Game officers, Peterborough Fire and Rescue and DRED staff carried Braczyk down the mountain on a litter through over a half mile of rough terrain to an ambulance at the Miller State Park parking lot. Rescuers monitored Braczyk’s heart during the transport to the ambulance with a monitor provided by the fire department, according to Morrocco.

Braczyk was transported by ambulance to the Catholic Medical Center in Manchester. Calls to the Catholic Medical Center seeking the condition of both Horowitz and Braczyk were not returned by press time Monday. Morrocco confirmed that he had spoken with both men on Monday morning, and both were recovering with good prognoses.

“Technology really played an important role in saving these victims’ lives,” said Morrocco. “In both rescues, it had a crucial role. Not to mention, the extraordinary effort given in getting them down the mountain in a quick fashion.” Usually, noted Morrocco, transporting lost or injured hikers off the mountain doesn’t come with a strict time restraint. This time, in both cases, the crews knew they were dealing with men facing cardiac issues, and time was of the essence. “You always try to make it as quick as you can, but when you’re in that situation, carrying a victim over rocks on a small path, it can be difficult. Typically, time isn’t a huge issue, but in these two incidents, it definitely was.”

The releases commend conservation officers, DRED rangers, fire, rescue and ambulance personnel for their efforts.

For more information on being safe while hiking or other outdoor recreation and to learn the hiker responsibility code, visit www.hikesafe.com.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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