Real lifesavers

The Acadia National Park visitor injured while free climbing on cliffs at the Precipice on Champlain Mountain on Saturday was fortunate that his accident occurred in an area well-served by professional and volunteer emergency medical and rescue personnel.

Laying at the bottom of an 80-foot cliff, the man, who was injured around noon, could be accessed only by skilled technical climbers. After a strenuous hike to the top of the 1,000-foot mountain, crews had to locate the man, set up a complicated system of safety ropes and lower themselves to the injured visitor’s location.

The man was given first aid, placed in a wire stokes litter and, with a climber suspended underneath the stokes to keep it clear from rocks and trees, carefully pulled up the mountain to an area where a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter hoisted him aboard for a quick trip to the hospital.

In all, more than 20 members of Mount Desert Island Search and Rescue, along with park rangers and others, toiled for six hours to get the man to the hospital shortly after 6 p.m.

And long after the thrump of the helicopter’s rotor blades faded into the evening’s darkness and fog, crews, working by headlamp, still had hours of work ahead of them. Ropes had to be rerigged to raise Dr. Julius Krevans from the bottom of the cliff where he had waited patiently for hours after tending to his patient. All those ropes and other technical climbing gear had to be cleaned up, stowed and carried in backpacks off the mountain.

Many were not back to the trailhead until 10 p.m. that night, just as it began to rain.

When you combine their efforts with those of the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter dispatched from Cape Cod, Bar Harbor Fire and Ambulance Personnel, MDI Hospital staff and the crew of Lifeflight that later took the man to Bangor, close to 50 to 60 people were involved in the rescue in some way.

The fact that Mount Desert Island is prepared to deal with such calamities — and that the individual responders are so dedicated and well-trained — should be a point of pride for everyone in our community.

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