Rescuers navigate Maunakea terrain during difficult rescue

MAUNAKEA — Fire rescue personnel from Pohakuloa Training Area braved difficult terrain to rescue a male party with a fractured femur on the summit of Maunakea on Monday evening.

Responding to a 7:26 p.m. call, responders found a male in his 60s below Keck Observatory approximately 1 mile from the nearest trail at the 12,500-foot elevation line who apparently lost his footing on unstable, dangerous terrain while trying to take a photograph.

It took the responding units 30 minutes to hike the one mile from the trail head to the patient’s location, the Hawaii Fire Department said in a press release. There was no marked trail beyond the trail head.

Six rescue personnel at a time carried the patient in a specialty stretcher. Due to the lack of oxygen, personnel could only carry the patient for approximately 10 feet at a time before stopping to catch their breath.

It took approximately three and a half hours to navigate the one mile distance and 700 foot elevation gain while carrying the patient. Rescuers worked tirelessly despite temperatures in the 30s and altitude sickness.

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