Lieutenant James Kneeland
Lieutenant Mark Ober
September 14, 2020
Franconia, NH – At 12:49 p.m. on Saturday September 12, NH Fish and Game Conservation Officers were alerted to a hiker suffering from a medical emergency at the summit of Mount Lafayette in Franconia. Two phone calls had been placed to 911—one call went to Vermont 911 while the other ended up going to Maine 911. Both calls were eventually transferred to NH 911 when it was learned that the calling party was in New Hampshire. The calls were eventually dropped but it was learned that a nurse who was on scene had advised of a male who was suffering a serious medical episode. Calls to the reporting party went unanswered.
It was decided that the caretaker at the AMC Greenleaf Hut would hike up to the summit to determine what was going on. As the caretaker was preparing to head to the summit, the stricken man arrived at the Greenleaf Hut after being assisted by other hikers. Upon arrival at the hut the man suffered another medical episode. It was determined by other hikers who had medical training that it would not be safe for the man to continue down the trail without assistance.
Greenleaf Hut is located about three miles from the trailhead and would have taken 7 or 8 hours for rescuers to respond and carry the hiker down. A call was placed to the NH Army National Guard to determine the possibility of a flight to Mount Lafayette, as their crews were already preparing to handle another medical emergency atop Mount Jefferson. By 3:00 p.m., two flight crews had been assembled and two separate Blackhawk helicopters were taking off from Concord responding to both emergencies in the White Mountains.
At 3:30 p.m., the first Blackhawk 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. The hiker was flown to Concord Hospital for evaluation. The hiker, identified as 50-year-old Patrik Svenson of Needham, MA, 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 he was on the summit of 5,260-foot Mount Lafayette.
Thompson & Meserve’s Purchase – A Massachusetts man died after suffering an unknown medical condition while summiting Mt. Jefferson on Saturday afternoon September 12.
Officials say that a 60-year-old hiker from Mashpee, MA, was hiking in a small group when he suddenly collapsed just before 2:00 p.m. Several Good Samaritan hikers, many who were in the medical profession, who witnessed the event immediately started CPR and called 911. Fish and Game Conservation Officers were alerted to the emergency and started the rescue response.
Due to the nature of the medical emergency, air support was requested from the National Guard unit from Concord. They responded by scrambling a crew as quickly as possible, getting a Blackhawk helicopter in the air, and flying north from Concord. At the same time they were requested for another emergency hiker call on the summit of Mt. Lafayette. Fair weather conditions and the seriousness of the hikers’ conditions played a major role in the use of air support during these rescues.
The National Guard helicopter crew arrived on scene and was able to extract the hiker from the summit of Mt. Jefferson by hoisting him up into the aircraft using a winch; a manuever which did not require a landing.
Unfortunately, despite all the exhaustive efforts by fellow hikers providing constant resuscitation for nearly 2 hours and the arrival of the National Guard helicopter, he did not survive. The hiker, whose name is being withheld pending notification to family members, was experienced and in good health prior to his collapse.