On Monday, Massachusetts State Police rescued a hiker who had gotten lost in the woods in the Western Massachusetts town of Southampton using an Air Wing helicopter, police said.
State Police were using the Air Wing helicopter to help Northampton police locate an alleged car thief. However, after they finished their search, they were notified by the Southampton Police Department that they were in need of assistance to locate a “lost hiker in distress” in the Southampton Wildlife Management Area, State Police said.
The male hiker, who had initially called 911, lost phone service, which complicated the rescue operation, however, Southampton police dispatchers managed to provide the Air Wing flight crew with an approximate location by determining where the phone was last used before it died, police said.
Fortunately, the hiker was found safe and sound off Mountain Road at around 4:52 pm. A video captured by the Air Wing helicopter shows the hiker in a clearing, surrounded by tall grass.
“The flight crew notified Southampton Police that it had located the lost hiker and that due to his location, they would land and secure him aboard the aircraft,” State Police said.
The pilot and the tactical flight officer aboard were able to land the Air Wing helicopter in a nearby field. Trooper Eric Fairchild, the tactical flight officer, located the hiker on the ground and helped him into the helicopter. An ambulance was waiting near Strong Road and Brickyard Road to assist the hiker, police said.
“The hiker appeared to [be] suffering the effects of heat exhaustion but was ambulatory,” police said.
Helicopter search and rescue operations like the one provided by the Massachusetts State Police are often arranged through private operators like FairLifts with expertise in searching for and providing aid to people in distress or imminent danger. Search and rescue operations include mountain rescue, ground search, and rescue, including the use of search and rescue dogs, urban search and rescue in cities, combat search and rescue on the battlefield, and air-sea rescue over water.