We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thunder-cloud, and the rain.
Henry David Thoreau
Hopefully you will never need search and rescue services while hiking in Vermont. By following the principles of hikeSafe your odds of a safe trip will be greatly enhanced.
Should something go wrong that is beyond the capability of your group to handle on your own however, you should never hesitate to call for assistance.
Following are some basic guidelines to follow should you run into trouble.
If you are lost:
- STOP! Take a minute to calm down and try to get your bearings rather than rushing blindly on. If you think you can retrace your steps to where you last knew you were on the trail, this is often the best strategy.
- If properly prepared you should have a map and compass. Use them to orient yourself and figure out the easiest way back to a known location.
- If you are truly lost it is probably best to stay where you are and call for assistance. If you have cell phone coverage call 911. Rescuers familiar with the area can often give you guidance over the phone on how to find your way back to the trail or a road. If you don’t have a phone, or do not have coverage you will have to make your own decision as to how best to proceed, and there are many factors that may play into this decision – there is no single “cure all” for every situation. Some things to consider:
- Did you tell somebody where you were going, and when you expected to return? If you did, rescuers will have a good idea where to look for you and it may be best to stay put.
- If you don’t have cell coverage, can you reasonably move to a higher location that might have better service. Also remember that sometimes you can TEXT when you cannot CALL, and in Vermont you can text to 911. It’s worth a try.
- If you don’t have a phone, or can’t make a call or send a text you will have to evaluate the risks and benefits of trying to find your own way out or waiting for help. Weather, your degree of confidence on which direction to head and other factors will all come into play.
If somebody gets hurt:
- Depending on the injury, sometimes you can self-rescue. Being self-sufficient is always the goal of experienced and well prepared outdoors people!
- If you do need assistance, do not hesitate to call for help.
- THERE IS NO CHARGE FOR BACKCOUNTRY RESCUE IN VERMONT.
- Call or text 911. If unable to call, you will have to send somebody out to get assistance.
- Make the patient comfortable, protect them from the elements, and treat the injury or illness to the best of your ability.
Vermont has many organizations who participate in search and rescue, including:
CALL 911 FOR ALL BACKCOUNTRY EMERGENCIES.