A letter to my rescuers

By Xavier Morin

On Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, the Mount Desert Island Search and Rescue (MDISAR) team worked with Acadia National Park’s rangers and the U.S. Coast Guard to extract a hiker who fell 60 feet off a cliff near the Precipice Trail and broke his leg. The operation was very technical and took over nine hours to complete with the help of a helicopter.

That hiker was me, a 28-year-old entrepreneur from Quebec, Canada. As I’m writing these lines, I’m nearing full recovery from a broken femur and the surgery that went along with it. It’s a miracle I got away with no handicap or any other injuries.

At first, some of you may have called me stupid for venturing off trail, especially when the trail’s name is the Precipice. I totally understand. I did, too, countless times, and especially after seeing that frightening picture of the rescue team rappelling down the cliff, taken by the USCG!

I’m very glad I survived the fall and was rescued, because who would want to be remembered as the guy who died from falling off a cliff? Certainly not me, nor anyone I know for that matter.

There are so many things I want to accomplish before I die! Nevertheless, there are certainly lessons to be learned from this event. The first ones that come to mind are to think twice before taking unnecessary risks, as well as always being prepared when going out on a hike.

In my case, a fully charged cell phone, a whistle, a first aid kit, an emergency blanket and plenty of food and water for the day tucked in my daypack (which also saved me from a spine injury) made a difference.

But what made an even greater difference that day were the volunteers from the search and rescue teams.

It made me realize how essential they are for our own safety and the safety of our loved ones. You never know when you, or someone you know, may need to be rescued … at least, I didn’t know.

One thing I do know for sure is that I will ever be grateful for their help and that making donations to MDISAR is the least we can do to support them. That’s what I just did, but felt I needed to do more than that, hence this letter.

Honestly, it’s hard to put words on how grateful I always will be towards everyone involved in saving my life. I’ve been thinking about the incident each and every day ever since it happened.

At first, I kept seeing and reliving the fall over and over again, which kept me up at night for a while. Then I started thinking more about how a decision can affect one’s life and have a ripple effect on so many individuals around us. I also thought about how volunteer work, trained professionals and medical staff were essential in saving my life that day and about how important friends and family are in our lives and how we too often take them for granted.

I thought about how our lives only hold by a thread, and that is why it is so important to make it count. I could go on and on.

The main goal of this letter is to thank the men and women who were involved in saving my life that day and highlight the amazing work they do on a regular basis! I’m sure they don’t get all the recognition they deserve.

Frankly, I was astonished by how professional everyone was and their capacity to work together as a team. It was easy to tell that everyone had great pride in doing what they did.

The individuals with whom I had the chance to chat with during my rescue were all very nice and courteous, even if some of them had just finished a long day of training off the Orange and Black Trail.

I especially want to thank Dr. J.R. Krevans and Seamus Russet, who rappelled down the mountain to make sure I was safe and lifted me back up for the helicopter transfer. I also very much appreciated the attention from J.R. and Mary Krevans, who came to visit me at the Bangor hospital the next day and sent me back some of things I had lost in the fall on the day of the accident.

Finally, I would especially like to thank the following people who were involved. I know I might not have all the names, but one thing is for sure, I can never thank you enough!

MDISAR members and volunteers: Tony Davis, Ben Dunphey, Leslie Ann Dykes, Jason Flynn, Tim Rand, Mitch Shaffer, Andrew Starbord, Chris Wiebusch, Steve Hudson, Chris Clark, Mary Krevans, Bianca Lech, Melissa Ossanna, Melissa Rowland, Al Simons and Wayne Wilson.

Thanks also to the staff of the Maine Association for Search and Rescue, United States Coast Guard, AirMedic from Quebec, Canada, Mount Desert Island police, the Hancock County 911 dispatch center, paramedics from the Bar Harbor Fire Department, LifeFlight of Maine, the staff of the Mount Desert Island Hospital emergency room, Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, as well as my family and friends who are always there for me and who took care of me during the months following my surgery.

All of you are all very important and inspiring people in my life, and I will ever be grateful for having you as a part of it.

Xavier Morin is a businessman and resident of Quebec City in Canada.

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