Agencies perform rescue at Morrow Mountain

A number of local agencies coordinated their efforts Friday to help save a person hurt on a steep trail at Morrow Mountain State Park.

Around 8:41 a.m. Friday, Eastside Fire Department and Stanly Rescue were dispatched to a report of a person suffering a traumatic injury on the steep side of the Sugarloaf Trail.

Along with multiple members of the Morrow Mountain staff, officials from the Badin Fire Department, the N.C. Air National Guard and Albemarle Fire Department’s ATV were added to the assignment along with Norwood Fire and members of the N.C. Forestry Service.

Sugarloaf is a 2.8-mile trail which goes up the second-highest peak of Morrow Mountain State Park and is listed on the park’s website as a “strenuous hike.” The trail is also described as “rocky and rugged in places and more challenging than many of the park’s other trails.”

Some of the vertical parts, according to Eastside Incident Coordinator and Safety Officer William Efird, can be reached by ATV but are “several hundred yards from the nearly-vertical parts of the most rugged eastern side.”

Along with an off-duty Stanly paramedic working part-time for Eastside, Efird arrived on the scene with Badin Fire. Efird said the patient “was determined to be stable with a deformity and possible fracture of the lower leg.”

Two plans of action were formulated for the rescue. One involved bringing sufficient resources to take the patient out on a basket stretcher. This plan “would require significant resources, the use of rope high lines and increase the risk of further injury to the patient and injury to responders,” according to Efird.

An alternate plan was for the Emergency Management department to request state assistance for a helicopter from the National Guard in Salisbury to hoist the patient off the mountain.

“Plan 2 was the best option and also the safest. At the same time it was felt to continue with plan 1 as a back up, although this would be a most difficult operation to carry out,” Efird said.

The helicopter, working with the North Carolina Helo-Aquatic Search and Rescue squad, was able to hoist the patient and the paramedic off the trail where the patient was transported to an EMS unit at the airport.

New London, Millingport, Southside and Endy fire departments were also used. An approximate personnel total of 55 people were used for the rescue.

“The ATVs transporting responders and equipment were instrumental in making the operation a success,” Efird said.