NorthStar Backcountry Response Team at Sandy River Festival
May 28, 2008
Not since Hurricane Gloria in September of 1985 has New England seen large scale flooding of the magnitude recently experienced locally in Fort Kent, though distributed over a much larger geographical area. Considering the amount of shoreline and urban development since that time, with ever increasing amounts of concrete and blacktop causing exponentially increased amounts of rainfall runoff, it is not a matter of if, but rather when the next catastrophic flood event will impact the New England region. With its steep topography, the Western Mountains of Maine are particularly vulnerable to large scale flood impacts.
Weather experts are predicting a higher than normal number of tropical events this coming hurricane season, to include 12 to 16 named storms, 6 to 9 hurricanes and 2 to 5 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5). They also predict a higher than normal likelihood of a hurricane impacting the New England region. In response to that concern, and as a part of a public safety awareness program, the NorthStar EMS Backcountry Medical Response Team will be presenting a swiftwater and flood rescue presentation on Saturday afternoon, June 7th, as part of the Sandy River Festival activities. For schedule information on all the Sandy River Fest related events, go on-line to http://www.strongmaine.com/River%20Festival.htm .
Highlighted in this program will be flood safety awareness information, safety equipment and PFD (lifejacket) uses, and hands-on in-water demonstrations, to include information on the National Weather Service’s national water safety campaign entitled “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” (TADD). This award winning program highlights the hazards of attempting to drive or walk through flooded roadways, the leading cause of flood related deaths in the US. This session will also address safety awareness issues for recreational swimmers, fisherman, and boaters who enjoy Maine’s moving water environments.
Statistics highlight that 2/3 of moving water drowning victims are would – be rescuers, often resulting in multiple victim fatalities. Attending this session will help you or your family gain valuable self-help and emergency survival information so that they can reduce the likelihood of becoming another victim at a swiftwater related incident. The NorthStar Backcountry Medical Response Team, with equipment support provided by the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, will also be providing ‘river patrol’ safety support for Sunday’s 9 mile downriver float from Strong to Farmington. A free shuttle is available for this easy class I-II moving water float. Float participants should dress for the cold water temperatures, wear a properly fitting PFD, and bring dry clothes in a waterproof bag for the trip.
The NorthStar Backcountry Medical Response Team is charged with responding to ill and injured persons in the off-road environment of forests, mountains, lakes and rivers within the NorthStar EMS response area. In collaboration with the Maine Warden Service and other wilderness rescue responders, they provide public education as well as emergency medical care to ill and injured recreational enthusiasts. In conjunction with NorthStar EMS and Franklin Memorial Hospital, they provide the largest number of Wilderness EMT certified pre-hospital care providers within the state of Maine. They respond to an average of 5 - 10 backcountry rescues each year, besides numerous seasonal snowmobile and ATV related calls within their service response area. For more information, go to the NorthStar EMS website at http://www.fchn.org/northstar/bcr-news .
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