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Contact: Caven Clark, Public Information Officer, 870/365-2790
On Sunday, March 16, Buffalo National River Search and Rescue successfully assisted with the extrication of a 17 year old woman from the Ponca Wilderness area of the park in Newton County. A group of five adults and five youth were backpacking during the onset of the very wet and cold weather this past weekend. The response effort began with a routine traffic stop when a ranger noticed a vehicle travelling at a high speed. He was informed by the driver that the group was trying to hike out, but there was no indication of any emergency circumstances. The ranger offered to assist with the hike-out and subsequently encountered the stressed individual. When responders arrived the subject was found semi-conscious with her mother huddled up with her under a wet sleeping bag. The patient was placed in a heat blanket, sleeping bag and litter and after being treated for hypothermia by North Arkansas Regional Medical Center Paramedics was carried by responders 1 ½ miles on a very rough, muddy trail, across one high creek, to a trailhead. The hiker's core temperature was 84 degrees when she arrived at North Arkansas Regional Medical Center and was treated and released the following day. Fifty-four responders, primarily volunteers, were involved in the rescue including the following agencies: Buffalo River Search and Rescue Team, Harrison Fire Department, Tri County SAR Team, Mennonite Search and Rescue Services, Newton County Sheriff's Department and SAR Team, North Arkansas Regional Medical Center, and the Arkansas Forestry Commission. This was very much a team effort and Buffalo National River staff would like to sincerely thank all responding agencies for their valuable assistance.
Visitors are reminded that, although storms such as the one experienced yesterday are uncommon, they are not unprecedented and this one was forecast with some accuracy. Make sure that you and your group are carrying appropriate equipment, are in good physical condition, and that you have a contact party that knows your travel plans. All emergencies can be reported to park dispatch at 888/692-1162.