COLTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — A man was rescued after kayaking in the Adirondacks Wednesday night in the Town of Colton.
According to the St. Lawrence County Director of Emergency Service Matthew R. Denner, on May 25 at 9:11 p.m., 911 operators received a call from a man in his 40s who said he was exhausted and could not move his legs as he had been kayaking all day on the Raquette River.
The man said he was wearing a black suit and black shirt and possessed a whistle and cell phone with 53% battery life. His location was pinged by 911 and the location was relayed to first responders and Colton and Cranberry Lake Volunteer Fire departments were dispatched.
Over the phone, the victim asked dispatchers if he should start a fire, and then dispatchers told the victim it was a “good idea” to start a controlled fire.
A command post was set up on the side of State Highway 56 in the Town of Colton south of State Highway 3 under a joint incident command of the Colton and Cranberry Lake fire chiefs. Forest Rangers were also requested and after a joint conference, a fire truck from St. Lawrence County was requested.
Once communication was made with first responders and the victim, responders decided to make an immediate extrication as the victim’s health was rapidly deteriorating.
After first responders were unable to rescue the victim, the 10th Mountain Division’s 10th Combat Aviation Brigade was called in for support. A Fort Drum Black Hawks and two Apache helicopters were in the air by 11 p.m. and were sent to the scene.
Potsdam Rescue was then put on standby and Canton-Potsdam Hospital was that the team from Fort Drum would possibly be transporting the patient to Potsdam Airport.
At 11:35 p.m., three of the helicopters passed over the command post, heading to the victim’s location. Pilots in the Apache helicopters were able to locate the victim in minutes, and the Black Hawk moved into position to perform a rescue.
Soldiers in the Black Hawk helicopter communicated with the victim via text and was asked to extinguish his fire. A crew was then lowered down 175 feet to package and hoist the victim back up to safety.
Once in the helicopter, Fort Drum medics made the decision to transport the patient to Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown for treatment, of dehydration, hypothermia and shock.
The rescue was deemed successful at 12:04 a.m.
“I would like to personally thank our two 911 dispatch shifts that were involved,” St. Lawrence County EMS Director Denner said in a press release. “They did an amazing job and a great line of communication with all involved were established. Both Colton and Cranberry Lake Fire and Rescue units, their training, professionalism, and dedication never goes unnoticed. NYS Forest Rangers with their support to our local first responders. Fort Drum their continued support to the neighboring communities, this successful rescue would not have happened last night and this morning without them.”
At 12:30 am, the command post was demobilized and units started checking back into service. At 01:30 a.m. a debriefing was conducted between St Lawrence County Car 1 and the Fort Drum flight crew.