This is what an Adirondack wilderness rescue looks like

Trooper Mark Bender and his K-9 dog Mandin with 84-year-old Donald Combs. Photo: NYS Police

Trooper Mark Bender and his K-9 dog Mandin with 84-year-old Donald Combs. Photo: NYS Police

Many of us followed the events very closely a couple of weeks ago, as State Police, Forest Rangers, and local volunteer crews worked urgently to try to locate Donald Combs, an 84-year-old hiker missing in the southern Adirondacks.

Combs vanished in the Black River Wild Forest in Forestport in Herkimer County.  When he failed to return home, his family called 911.

Now State Police have released a photograph showing the moment when Combs was located by a trooper named Mark Bender and his K-9 dog Mandin.

“Mr. Combs was weak and dehydrated but he was alert and able to identify himself,” State Police say.  “He was air-lifted out of the dense brush and taken to St. Luke’s Memorial Hospital Center in Utica for treatment.”

The image is a powerful reminder of the work that these state and local rescue crews — including many volunteers — do when people go missing in the Adirondack North Country.  In this case, officials say crews searched an area that included roughly 2,000 acres of difficult terrain.

I also love that these K-9 units played such a big role in the search.  This from the State Police release:

Members from the New York State Police Canine Unit who assisted in the extensive search included Trooper Shaun Smith and his K9 Doyle, Trooper Kevin Conners and his Bloodhound Lynde, and Trooper Daniel Snyder with his K9 Dillon.  Special recognition also goes out to the Woodgate Fire Department, the Search and Rescue Federation and the many other volunteer organizations for this successful outcome.

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1 Comment on “This is what an Adirondack wilderness rescue looks like”

  1. Robin McClellan says:

    I, too, am inspired by the role of dogs and volunteers in these efforts. It’s a mark of a successful community when the lines between professionals, government and volunteers blur. It’s also great to see the State Police acknowledge the help.

    What I can’t quite figure out is why searchers wear camouflage? I know it’s often their uniform, but it would seem that an orange vest would make it easier to see other searchers and the person being searched for to see them. No disrespect, just curiosity!

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