Hartford firefighters trek through steep terrain
QUECHEE - One of Hartford High School’s football coaches is home this week recuperating from an ankle injury he sustained last weekend near the base of the Quechee Gorge while he was out for a trail hike with his wife and their dog.
Tim Porter, a former Hanover High assistant coach who has served for the past five years as Hartford High’s Offensive and Defensive Line Coach, was the focus of a rescue effort by Hartford firefighters just minutes after they had put a seriously injured hunter onto a medical helicopter at a landing zone they set up in Clifford Park early Saturday afternoon.
Hartford Fire Chief Scott Cooney had just declared that operation over when the call came in for a man down in the woods off a hiking trail below the campgrounds in the Quechee State Park and so a half-dozen emergency vehicles headed out on the Quechee-West Hartford Road to the Welcome Center at the Gorge and began an hour-long effort to extricate Porter from the woods.
“Man, they were fast!,” Lynn Porter recalled Monday after her husband had returned home over the weekend on crutches with a knee brace. “We were scared to death because it was starting to get cold. We thought this was going to be one of those sad stories where a couple freezes to death a mile from their house,” she added with a laugh.
“We were going down the Switchback Trail, which is a pretty steep hill, when he slipped on a pile of leaves and fell right down. He heard a ‘pop’ and he’s a football coach so he knows what these injuries are like and he knew that he probably tore something,” Lynn explained.
“He literally couldn’t move and so I had to help him get up and then we didn’t know which way to go. We couldn’t go back uphill but we were in the middle of a steep trail and I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to get him out of there.”
“We were really truly in the middle of the woods where no one normally walks and neither of us had cellphones, which was silly, and we were very lucky and very thankful because another couple happened to be walking toward us and had their cellphones. I was thinking that I was going to have to leave him and take off for the visitor’s center to get help.”
Instead, the other couple ended up going back to the visitor’s center at the Gorge and then guided rescuers back down to the Porters.
Hartford firefighters ended up putting Porter into a rescue basket with a single “big wheel” underneath it and trundling him out through the woods to the large trail that runs from the Route 4 Bridge down to the base of the Gorge.
“It was quite a process,” Lynn Porter recalled, “The firemen were really an amazing team. It took six guys to get him over tree roots and down the hill to their dune buggy.”
Firefighters loaded Porter into the back of their Gator all-terrain vehicle and drove him back up to the parking lot at the gift shop where he was transferred to a waiting Hartford Ambulance.
“Tim is home but we’re still not sure what he hurt,” Lynn said, adding, “He hasn’t fractured anything but it could be either a very bad sprain or a torn ACL or something like that. He’s supposed to have an orthopedic appointment soon. We don’t know when, because it’s Thanksgiving week, and so who knows. We just ended football season and here we are having to deal with an injury.”
Porter describes his rescue to his son Nick as he waits to be loaded into the ambulance in the parking lot of the gift shop
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