ACADIA NAT’L PARK — A hiker whose leg had been crushed by a large rock was lifted off Dorr Mountain Monday morning at the end of a rope suspended from a Maine Forest Service helicopter.
She was securely attached to a sling at the end of the rope, and accompanied in the open-air flight by a forest ranger. The technique, called a “short-haul rescue,” is common for the Forest Service crew, but is not often used in Acadia.
The woman was hiking the Ladder Trail up Dorr in the early morning when a rock fell on her lower right leg, according to Acadia spokesman John Kelly.
The rock was about two feet in diameter, he said, and the compound fracture in her leg was considered life threatening. The name of the victim has not been released. Her hiking partner was able to roll the rock off her leg before rescuers arrived, Kelly said.
The group called 911 from the mountain just after 7 a.m.
Working with Acadia National Park to coordinate the rescue, the Bar Harbor Fire Department sent an ambulance to the trailhead near The Tarn on Route 3, according to Bar Harbor Assistant Fire Chief John Lennon
Firefighter/paramedics Molly Hillman and Jon Zumwalt hiked the trail and began treating the woman. A crew from MDI Search and Rescue (MDI SAR) arrived on the cliff. Together, “they determined a short-haul was the best thing to do,” Lennon said.
“Members of MDI SAR worked with [park rangers and the paramedics] to set up a technical rope lower in order to move the patient 30 feet down a steep angle cliff face from the accident site to an area where the Maine Forest Service short-haul team could safely reach her,” said Davin O’Connell of MDISAR.
The team also planned out an alternative evacuation in case the fog prevented a rescue from the air, he said.
The Forest Service helicopter arrived from Old Town at 10:06 a.m., according to reports. The whole crew rides inside until they arrive at a landing zone near the rescue site, in this case the town athletic fields, where the ranger who will ride with the patient sets up the sling and ropes for himself and the patient. He was lifted off the ball field at 10:18.
The helicopter returned to the athletic fields at 10:47 a.m., and the patient was taken to MDI Hospital in an ambulance.
“This helicopter short haul rescue method saved rescuers a dangerous and arduous carry down of the victim,” the Maine Forest Rangers said in a statement on their Facebook page. “And, it assures that the victim gets to critical care sooner. It is always our pleasure to help out Acadia and Bar Harbor’s finest.”
Dick Broom contributed to this story.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Zumwalt’s first name. The Islander apologizes for the error.