HART team makes 3rd rescue in three days

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

   The Carter County Rescue Squad's High-Angle Rescue Team got its season-opener workout last week with three back-to-back rescue calls.
   The third rescue operation came late Friday when the HART team was dispatched to assist a 14-year-old at Vandevanter Shelter on Iron Mountain.
   John Burleson said members of the rescue squad, HART team and Stoney Creek Volunteer Fire Department responded to the shelter.
   "It took us about 1-1/2 hours to get back to the site. We put him on a 4-wheeler and rode him out," Burleson said. The youth was transported by rescue squad to Johnson City Medical Center for treatment of a knee injury.
   Burleson said the youth was one of a group of about 10 persons hiking from Damascus, Va., to Erwin on the Appalachian Trail. The HART team was notified around 10:36 p.m. and the youth was off the mountain by 2:45 a.m.
   "If we had had to hike in, we probably wouldn't have got him out before 9 a.m.," Burleson said.
   On Wednesday, 79-year-old Floyd Buckles of Elizabethton was brought out of the woods after he became lost while ginseng hunting. He became lost around 4 p.m. Tuesday and was located around 4 a.m. Wednesday on the Cross Mountain portion of the trail.
   On Thursday, the HART team responded to a call of an injured youth at Upper Laurel Falls, about 2 miles above Dennis Cove Campground. He was treated for a broken leg.
   Burleson offered some tips to those who plan to venture out hiking:
   "If you're out in the woods and you get lost, sit down. We WILL find you," he said. "If you get overextended, find a place you can hold up. You don't move around in the woods at night without lights."
   He recommended hikers take along a First-Aid kit, "and even though you may not think you'll need it, take along some food and water -- and a map and compass would be nice."
   He also recommended carrying warm clothing. "Take along waterproof gear, a space blanket, waterproof matches, dry clothes, and wool socks. Stay away from cotton, because when it gets wet, it loses its heat value."
   Burleson said it also is advisable to carry extra flashlight batteries and also cautioned against straying off into the woods alone.
   "Do not go hiking alone unless you are an experienced hiker and know the area. Also, leave an itinerary with a friend: 'If I'm not back by so-and-so, give me another hour and then call help.'"
   And as repulsive as it might sound when trying to get away from it all in nature, Burleson said carrying along a cell phone could be worthwhile.
   "There are 911 signals bouncing around everywhere," he said.