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Search and Rescue: Literally A Heavy Burden

Chris Jensen for NHPR
Brad Morse is one of 16 members of New Hampshire Fish and Game's search-and-rescue team.

Typically winter hikers try to balance what they need with not turning themselves into recreational beasts of burden. But when searchers from New Hampshire Fish and Game head into the mountains they don’t have the luxury of light weight.

They have to be ready for almost any contingency including uncooperative if not perverse weather.  And, that translates into pounds.

“I’d say my ruck weighs approximately fifty-five pounds,” says Conservation Officer Brad Morse, who often heads into The White Mountains looking for a lost or injured hiker.

Earlier this month he and fellow conservation officer Heidi Murphy climbed up to the Franconia Ridge on a Friday night in high winds to help a 24-year-old Maine hiker who bit off more than he could chew and called for help.

The fifty-five pound rucksack is a starting point. 

But that doesn’t include any additional gear that might be needed.

For example deep snow or ice means carrying snowshoes, crampons and ice ax and poles.

If someone is lost there’s a good chance the victim will have hypothermia. So, rescuers carry a charcoal heater, sleeping bag and extra clothes for the victim.

If there’s an indication that somebody is injured that means not just more first-aid supplies but possibly a sled or litter for a carryout.

To see a video of Morse showing what he carries go here.

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