Conservation Officer Matthew Holmes
June 17, 2021
Bean’s Purchase, NH – On the afternoon of Wednesday, June 16, 2021, rescue personnel from two states converged on a remote section of National Forest to ensure the safety of a hiker who was in need of assistance.
At approximately 10:30 a.m.,, Holly Gahm, 58, of Strafford, New Hampshire, was hiking on the Moriah Brook Trail with her daughter. At a location approximately 1.3 miles into the woods from the Wild River, Gahm slipped and fell, sustaining a significant arm injury. Following the incident, the two hikers worked together to splint the affected limb. The limb was stabilized, but Gahm experienced increasing pain and other side effects of the fall. Due to the totality of issues, she was experiencing, Gahm decided to activate a personal locator beacon and send her daughter back to the Wild River Campground to seek assistance.
At approximately 11:15 a.m., New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers were alerted to the incident. At the time of the call, the only information available was that a personal locator beacon was giving off an “S.O.S” signal on the Moriah Brook Trail, and that the Wild River Campground Host had sent out a radio transmission to the US Forest Service indicating that he was dealing with a medical emergency and was in need of an ambulance. With no cell coverage and ineffective radio communication, Conservation Officers worked to conduct an emergency response with all available resources based on the limited information available.
Rescue personnel from Gorham (NH) Ambulance, Bethel (ME) Ambulance, Gilead (ME) Fire Department, Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities (S.O.L.O-Madison, NH), and New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers all responded to a staging area set up near the Wild River Campground. Due to the remoteness of the location, it took most personnel between 1 and 2 hours to arrive in the area.
Shortly after entering the woods, rescuers were met by Gahm and her daughter, who were hiking out of the woods under their own power. The rescue party arrived safely at the Wild River Campground at approximately 1:45 p.m., where Gahm was evaluated by ambulance staff. Gahm was ultimately transported by Bethel Ambulance to Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin for further evaluation and treatment of her injuries.
Conservation Officers would like to note that Gahm was found to be an experienced hiker who was well prepared for her hike. The area she was hiking in had almost no cell phone coverage and very poor radio coverage, making communication extremely difficult. In the end, both victim and rescuers prepared for the worst, which ultimately created a best-case scenario by the time the incident was concluded.