Hawaii island firefighters rescue injured man at 12,500-foot level of Mauna Kea
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Hawaii island firefighters rescue injured man at 12,500-foot level of Mauna Kea

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2015

    Keck Observatory telescopes are shown on Hawaii island’s Mauna Kea near Hilo.

A man in his 60s had to be rescued Monday night after suffering an apparent femur fracture while taking photos on a trail below the W.M. Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea.

Hawaii County Fire Department officials said rescuers worked tirelessly to rescue the man despite cold temperatures and altitude sickness.

Unstable terrain gave way while the man was trying to take a photograph about a mile from the nearest trail at 12,500 feet above sea level with temperatures in the 30s, officials said today.

“There was no marked trail beyond the trail head and the terrain was uneven and dangerous,” HCFD said in a news release.

At 7:26 p.m., HCFD sent four units and 17 personnel with the first unit arriving on the scene at 9:45 p.m. It took them about 30 minutes to hike a mile from the trail head to reach the man.

After locating the man, six rescue personnel rotated by carrying the patient in a rescue stretcher. As a result of the high altitude, rescuers could only carry the man for about 10 feet at a time before stopping to catch their breath.

It took about 3-1/2 hours for rescuers to navigate the 1-mile distance and 700 feet elevation gain while carrying the man.

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