THOMPSON AND MESERVE’S PURCHASE — Two New Hampshire National Guard Black Hawk helicopters last Saturday assisted New Hampshire Fish and Game with simultaneous rescues of hikers, one in Franconia and the other on Mount Jefferson. The latter ended tragically as the hiker died.
Two phone calls had been placed to 911. One went to Vermont 911, while the other ended up going to Maine 911. Both were eventually transferred to New Hampshire 911.
The rescue in Franconia involved transporting a 50-year-old hiker, Patrik Svensson of Needham, Mass., to Concord Hospital after suffering a medical emergency at the summit of Mount Lafayette, reported at 12:49 p.m. Saturday
It was decided that the caretaker at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Greenleaf Hut would hike to the summit to determine the nature of the emergency. But as the caretaker was preparing to head out, Svensson arrived at the Greenleaf Hut after being assisted by other hikers.
Upon arrival, he suffered another medical episode, according to Fish and Game.
Greenleaf Hut is located about 3 miles from the trailhead, and it would have taken seven to eight hours to carry the hiker down. A call was placed to the Army National Guard to determine the possibility of a flight to Mount Lafayette. By 3 p.m., a flight crew had been assembled to take off from Concord
At 3:30 p.m., a Black Hawk helicopter arrived at Greenleaf Hut and lowered a medic by hoist. At 3:45 p.m. the hiker and medic were hoisted back into the helicopter and the hiker flown to Concord Hospital for evaluation.
Svensson, the hiker, had departed earlier that day in an effort to complete the Falling Waters/Bridle Path Loop. He completed 4.9 miles of the 9-mile hike he had planned when the medical episode occurred while at the summit of 5,260-foot Mount Lafayette.
The second incident on Mount Jefferson in Thompson and Meserves Purchase involved a 60-year-old hiker, identified as Joseph Gormley of Mashpee, Mass.
Officials say Gormley was hiking on Mount Jefferson with a small group when he suddenly collapsed just before 2 p.m.
Several hikers, many of whom were in the medical profession, witnessed the event, immediately started CPR and called 911. Fish and Game conservation officers were alerted to the emergency and started the rescue response.
As with the other emergency, air support was requested from the National Guard unit from Concord. They scrambled a crew as quickly as possible, getting a Black Hawk helicopter in the air and flying north from Concord, just as the other Black Hawk was being requested.
Fair weather conditions and the seriousness of both hikers’ conditions played a major role in the use of air support during these rescues, according to Lt. Mark Ober of Fish and Game.
The National Guard helicopter crew was able to extract Gormley from the summit of Mount Jefferson by hoisting him up into the aircraft using a winch, a maneuver that did not require a landing.
Despite exhaustive efforts by fellow hikers to resuscitate him, and the arrival of the National Guard helicopter, Gormley, described by Fish and Game officials as “experienced and in good health” prior to his collapse, did not survive.