Lt. William Boudreau
September 20, 2023
Jaffrey, NH – On Tuesday, September 19, 2023, at approximately 1:52 p.m., NH Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers responded to an injured hiker at Monadnock State Park in Jaffrey. Cynthia Bissell, 65, of Barre, MA, was descending the White Dot Trail just above the upper junction when she fell and suffered a serious head injury. Bissell’s hiking companion was able to call for help, which triggered a response by NH Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers. A Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Mountain Patrol Ranger and a volunteer at the park were close by when the call came in and hiked to Bissell’s location.
The Mountain Patrol Ranger, who is an EMT, requested a medical helicopter due to the seriousness of her injuries. Bissell was placed in a litter and with the help of passing hikers was carried down the White Dot Trail to the nearest landing zone. At 2:50 p.m., the Dartmouth Hitchcock Advanced Response Team (DHART) helicopter had to abort their attempt to land to pick up the injured hiker due to inclement weather that had moved in just prior to their arrival. Conservation Officers then reached out to the New Hampshire Army National Guard to see if they would be able to pick the victim up from the mountain using a helicopter hoist.
Conservation Officers and members of Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team continued hiking to Bissell’s location in the event that a helicopter extraction was not possible. At 4:45 p.m., the weather conditions at the summit had improved and the NH Army National Guard helicopter was able to land and pick up Bissell. By 5:05 p.m., the Guard had transferred Bissell to Concord Hospital. This helicopter extraction resulted in Bissell reaching hospital care several hours sooner than if she had to be carried down the mountain by rescuers.
Conservation Officers would like to thank all agencies that responded as well as the numerous Good Samaritans who jumped in to assist. This incident is a good reminder to all people recreating in the outdoors to dress appropriately, hike with a partner or group, and carry the necessary equipment. Always plan for the unexpected. Please visit www.hikesafe.com for a list of recommended hiking equipment.