TURNERS FALLS, Mass (WGGB) — Spring is here and for many that means the start of hiking season. One wrong step, though, could turn a thrilling hobby into a disastrous accident.
Earlier this month, technical rescue teams from Turners Falls and Greenfield responded to help two injured hikers in three days.
One of the victims had fallen 80 feet off Mount Sugarloaf. Crews had to angle the man down the mountain at 60 and 70 degree angles.
“He was already backboarded. We got him into the stokes basket,” Captain John Zellmann said. “Then we set up a main line and a belay line with two basket tenders and lowered the three of them down the mountain.”
Marion Storozuk lives at the base of the mountain and saw the whole rescue, from start to finish.
“They were all the way up the mountain,” Storozuk said. “We couldn’t see them, you know after they got into the woods. But we did see start see them coming down carrying him butted to it was intense.”
Franklin County is filled with hiking attractions like Sugarloaf, so technical rescue teams get called out five or six times a year for difficult rescues.
The Franklin County teams started in 2008. The Amherst Fire Department staffs a similar team. Their precision rescues have gained attention from local fire chiefs. That’s why a new, regional team is in the works.
“It’s in its’ infancy stages. But we do we have guys that have been trained,” Zellmann said. “We have the equipment-three trailers.”
The trailers will be located in Berkshire, Hampden, and Hampshire counties so the entire region is covered. The squad already has about 100 men and women eager to navigate the mountainous nooks and crannies all across western Massachusetts. The regional rescue team is scheduled to be ready to start responding to calls sometime this summer.
The regional rescue team is scheduled to be ready to start responding to calls sometime this summer.