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Environment

After the avalanche: The lasting impact of a N.H. rescue attempt

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Frank Carus, courtesy of the Mt. Washington Avalanche Center
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Looking up Raymond's Cataract at the path of the 2019 avalanche that buried Nick Benedix.

How do wilderness EMTs cope when a rescue goes wrong?

On a bluebird day in April of 2019, Snow Ranger Frank Carus set out to investigate a reported avalanche in the backcountry of Mount Washington. He found a lone skier named Nick Benedix buried several feet under the snow. He was severely hypothermic, but alive.

Jeff Fongemie points at Raymond's Cataract on a topographical map in the Pinkham Notch Visitor's Center..jpg
Jessica Hunt
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Jeff Fongemie points at Raymond's Cataract on a topographical map in the Pinkham Notch Visitor's Center

What happened next was an attempted rescue that people in Northern New England are still learning from.

Wilderness EMTs can work for decades in the field and never encounter this particular situation. So what happens when a rescue goes wrong? And how do first responders cope when an opportunity to save someone’s life slips through their fingers?

Featuring:  Denise Butler, Frank Carus, Jeff Fongemie, Nicholas Weinberg

FURTHER READING

Read the Mount Washington Avalanche Center’s final report on Nick Benedix’s death.

Learn more about avalanche safety here.

Read the Wilderness Medical Society Journal article about this incident here.

Courtesy MWAC Raymond's Cataract Overview.jpg
Courtesy MWAC

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