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Firefighters, EMS undertake terrain rescue operation at Trexler Nature Preserve

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First responders were dispatched Feb. 17 to conduct a terrain rescue at the Trexler Nature Preserve, North Whitehall Township.

Firefighters, rescue engines and special service units from Tri-Clover Volunteer Fire Company Station 26, Laurys Station Volunteer Fire Company Station 12, Neffs Volunteer Fire Company Station 16 and Community Fire Company No. 1, Schnecksville responded to the call, in addition to medical personnel from Northern Valley EMS.

Deputy Chief Bradley Petrohoy of Community Fire Company No. 1, Schnecksville was the incident commander for the operation.

He told The Press that a dispatch call was received around 1:30 p.m. for firefighters to accompany a Northern Valley ambulance to the Trexler Nature Preserve for a rescue operation involving an injured male hiker.

“Given the terrain, they brought the fire departments to help,” Petrohoy said.

He noted that first responders were provided an initial location near the Schlicher Covered Bridge but were directed on-scene by hikers to the location of the injured man.

The man, who appeared to be hiking alone, was located near the intersection of the Elk Viewing and Boy Scout trails in the preserve’s central range. Petrohoy said Northern Valley paramedics were the first emergency workers to reach the patient and provide treatment for injuries to the hiker’s lower leg.

“They [NOVA] made initial patient contact and assessed the situation,” Petrohoy said. “We brought the manpower and the UTV [Utility Terrain Vehicle] to help get them off the ridge.”

Petrohoy said the use of Schnecksville’s UTV, an off-road rescue vehicle, was necessary to traverse the nature reserve’s steep hillsides and bring the patient to waiting emergency vehicles along Park Road, near the exit of the Lehigh Valley Zoo.

“It’s just challenging to walk around here, let alone carry somebody, especially for an ambulance crew of two or three with a patient,” he said.

He noted that the entire rescue operation, from dispatch to loading the patient in the ambulance, took approximately 49 minutes. The patient was taken by NOVA EMS to an unknown hospital for treatment of his injuries. Petrohoy said he expected the man to make a full recovery.

He congratulated responding firefighters and EMS crew for conducting a smooth rescue operation, as well as fire police units which kept traffic flowing and ensured that emergency resources reached the proper location.