Sergeant Glen Lucas
September 5, 2019
Bean’s Purchase, NH – At approximately 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday September 4, 2019, a 911 call was received for a hiker that had sustained a non-life-threatening injury while hiking along the Appalachian Trail.
Paul Pagano, 38, of Barnegat, New Jersey, was hiking on the Carter-Moriah Trail, near the junction of North Carter Trail, when he fell on wet rocks and roots and sustained a leg injury that would not allow him to continue hiking.
Due to the distance and size of the hiker, New Hampshire Fish and Game made calls to the Appalachian Mountain Club and three volunteer search and rescue groups: Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, Lakes Region Search and Rescue, and Mountain Rescue Service. Conservation Officers from around the state were also called to assist, due to low numbers of initially responding volunteers.
Initial rescuers started up the trail at approximately 12:30 p.m., and when they reached Pagano he was placed in a litter and carried approximately 3.4 miles down steep, tough terrain that was worsened by rain showers throughout the duration of the rescue. Once down the mountain, Gorham Ambulance assessed Pagano and transported him to Androscoggin Valley Hospital for further treatment of his injuries.
This rescue is an example of how reliant Conservation Officers are on volunteer rescue groups to assist in search and rescue missions. Volunteers from all teams continued to trickle in as the night went on, totaling 20 volunteers and 6 Conservation Officers. Even with these numbers, Pagano did not reach Camp Dodge, in the litter, until 9:00 p.m. Camp Dodge was used as a cut off from the Imp Trail to shorten the carry by approximately one mile. (This cutoff is not a public trail and is used only by AMC and Fish and Game.)
This rescue also shows how difficult it can be at times for volunteers to leave their professions and families to volunteer for a rescue of a hiker. The difficulty of finding volunteers shows a continuing opportunity for the hiking community to join a local search and rescue group. Applications for local teams can be found online at each respective team’s website or Facebook page.