The longest journey begins with a single step.
Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching
While one of the main goals of the hikeSafe program is to reduce the number of rescues necessary in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, accidents do happen. In these unfortunate situations, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and White Mountain National Forest, along with local volunteer associations, are always prepared to conduct rescues.
In search and rescue scenarios, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the lead agency and is in charge of coordinating the rescue efforts. Typically, search and rescue crews are made up of New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers, White Mountain National Forest personnel and volunteers who venture into the backcountry in order to find lost and injured hikers.
Organizations who assist New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and U.S. Forest Service include:
Many members of these organizations are active EMS personnel, and all are well-versed in outdoor skills, and all are invaluable to hikers in an emergency. But, the less they are called on, the safer everyone is!
Many times these individuals are putting themselves at personal risk in order to find someone who has perhaps used poor judgment and stumbled into a dangerous situation, especially when there is a severe weather situation.
Hikers should also know that if they need to be rescued as a result of their irresponsible actions, they can be charged for the cost of the event, which averages in the thousands per rescue. Annually, New Hampshire spends $260,000 on rescues.
For instance, if someone is injured in the mountains, at least 18-24 rescuers and several hours are needed to carry that person out. That number often exceeds that number of New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers, U.S. Forest Service personnel and volunteers able to assist. Be prepared to help - especially if the injured is a member of your group.