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Firefighters rig a rope system to rescue the hiker Wednesday at the Monument Mountain Reservation. (Photo Courtesy Great Barrington Fire Department)

Great Barrington Fire Department rescues hiker on Monument Mountain

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By Thursday, Jul 13, 2017 News 13

Great Barrington — The Great Barrington Fire Department rescued a 71-year-old man yesterday suffering from severe dehydration at Monument Mountain Reservation and could not make his way back down the mountain, Chief Charles Burger said.

On Wednesday, July 12, shortly before noon, the Great Barrington department, along with Southern Berkshire Ambulance, responded to Monument Mountain Reservation for a report of an ill elderly man at the summit. Upon arrival, first responders learned that the elderly man, who was hiking with his son, had collapsed at the top of the Squaw Peak Trail, Burger said.

Great Barrington firefighters, using their Utility Task Vehicle (UTV), and the department’s rope rescue team ascended the mountain to reach the man. The Egremont Fire Department and the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team also responded to provide additional rope rescue technicians, and the Sheffield Fire Department responded with additional UTVs. The Monterey Fire Department stood by to cover additional calls in Great Barrington during the incident.

Crews reached the hiker within 45 minutes. The man was treated by medics and stabilized. Due to his location on the mountain, he had to be carried across boulders and lowered down steep embankments using rope systems before reaching an area of the trail accessible to UTVs, which were used to bring him down the rest of the way.

Firefighters reached the bottom of the mountain by 2:30 p.m. The man was transported via ambulance to an area hospital in stable condition. All rescue crews cleared the scene by 3 p.m.

“This incident was a good interagency operation between fire departments, the tech team and Southern Berkshire medics who provided exceptional care,” Burger said. “It’s always a good day when we have a successful outcome.”

Since the Great Barrington Fire Department identified mountain rescue as one of the primary ways it can serve the community, firefighters have spent thousands of man hours training in rope rescue and finished 250 hours of refresher training on Monday. Firefighters also raised funds to purchase the UTV for the department, Burger said

To prevent injury and illness while on Monument Mountain Reservation, Burger recommends that residents follow several important safety tips:

  • Dress appropriately. Footwear should be comfortable but have ankle support, particularly when hiking steep and uneven terrain.
  • Hydrate, particularly in hot, humid weather. Since it takes several hours for your body to absorb water you need to hydrate prior to exertion and continue to hydrate while hiking.
  • Pick an appropriate trail for your experience level and physical fitness. That includes both length and difficulty.

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13 Comments   Add Comment

  1. mary says:

    Probably another city idiot taxing our resources because of his stupidity.

    1. Robin says:

      What a stupid , mean spirited comment! And by the way, those “city idiots” are vital to the economy of Berkshire County. The only idiot here is you!

    2. Lauren Clark says:

      Really, Mary, what do you get out of being so mean spirited? How about a little empathy? Why would it matter to you where this person is from?

    3. Shawn G. says:

      Is that your real name?

    4. T.Harvey says:

      Wow that is cold hearted,How could you be so cruel?

  2. Keith Garton says:

    instead of snarky comments — a lot of thanks are due our local community heroes.

  3. Laura says:

    How does a 71 year old elderly man make it up to the top and manage to get into a remote area on a humid day and not take any water with him? Aren’t there easier trails for the elderly to hike on? I haven’t been on the mountain since the 70’s when I was a kid, but I am sure they have made more trails since then. Thank heavens we have the local fire departments with the training to rescue people up there, but there has got to be a lot more common sense with these hikers. This seems to be the norm lately.

  4. C. d'Alessandro says:

    I am sorry that our cultural ethos seems to encourage us (including, sadly, me) to jump to adversarial judgment of people and situations, especially in the absence of facts. While it is possible that this hiker was not prepared for the conditions on the MM trail, paradoxical and unexpected heat reactions do occur. Many years ago on another hot and humid day, a riding instructor apprenticing under me unexpectedly keeled over from heat exhaustion; she was then 17 years old, and in excellent health. Sometimes things unexpected happen. It is well that our first responders performed efficiently, and that the hiker was rescued. That, with admonitions and ‘heads up’ to us all about preparedness, should suffice.

  5. Linda says:

    I met the gentleman on the summit that day. He had hiked with his son to celebrate his 71st birthday. They seemed familiar with the mountain & he was prepared with water wearing a Camelback. I’m glad to hear he is expected to fully recover.

  6. Michael says:

    I am the 71 year old man who was rescued. I’ve been hiking regularly in the Berkshires since 1978 including an accompanied yearly trek to the top of Monument Mountain on my birthday. In spite of proper precautions including hydration on the ascent, I did suffer from dehydration requiring 3 liters of IV fluid. My overwhelming emotion is gratitude to the Great Barrington firefighters and their rope rescue team who preformed flawlessly under extremely adverse conditions to rescue me. They are my heroes and the community heroes.

  7. Charles Wohl says:

    I am a friend of the hiker who was rescued and was told the details by him. He is an experienced hiker who was well prepared and has lived in the Berkshires for many years. Clearly, the response of 7/14/17 by Mary was ill-informed and not helpful. It is comforting to know that we have a local rescue team of such skill and knowledge.

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