THOMPSON AND MESERVES PURCHASE — Shortly before noon Sunday, rescuers responded to the Capps Ridge trail to assist a hiker who had been cut with an ax.

At the time of the accident, Michael Blair, 52, of Pepperell, Mass., and some companions were on a volunteer work detail to maintain the trail.

According to the N.H. Fish and Game Department, at about 11:35 a.m. and at a location three-quarters of a mile up the trail from Jefferson Notch Road, Blair's ax glanced off a tree that he was cutting and struck him in the leg. As a result of the blow, Blair sustained a serious but non-life-threatening injury.

Immediately following the accident, Blair used a first-aid kit he had in his pack to treat the injury. Using supplies from the kit and his wilderness first aid training, Blair was able to perform first aid on himself and stabilize the injury. Not knowing exactly how severe the injury was, another member of the group called 911 to alert authorities.

As a result of the call for help, members of Twin Mountain Fire and Rescue, along with Fish and Game conservation officer, responded to the scene.

Rescuers used an ATV to access the Capps Ridge Trailhead via Jefferson Notch Road (the road was still closed due to spring conditions). At 12:35 p.m., rescuers located Blair and his hiking companions at the Capps Ridge Trailhead.

Blair explained that he had monitored the injury but had been able to walk back down the trail to his current location.

Blair was subsequently transported out of the woods via ATV and assessed by ambulance personnel once roadside. He was later taken to an area hospital via private vehicle to seek evaluation and treatment.

Conservation Officer Matthew Holmes reminds people that "this incident highlights the need for hikers and other backcountry visitors to be self-sufficient. This accident occurred nearly 5 miles from the nearest driveable road but did not turn in to a dire situation because the individuals involved were prepared with the proper gear and knowledge to deal with such a situation.

"New Hampshire has a great network of skilled professional and volunteer rescuers, but the knowledge and preparedness of the individual is often times the difference between a rescue and a recovery," Holmes said.

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