Whitesburg KY
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Injured hiker describes long ordeal, thanks all who helped rescue her

To the Editor:

My name is Ashley Pangle Chandler and I’m a 46-year-old mother, wife, and teacher from the Commonwealth of Virginia. My husband and I are avid hikers and hike each weekend in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, or Kentucky. We live in Wise, and geographically speaking that puts us in a prime location to hike an abundance of trails in many different states.

On Sunday, October 24, around 11 a.m., we hiked Bad Branch Falls in the Kentucky State Nature Preserve. We then decided to hike on up to High Rock. It was a beautiful autumn day, and the fall foliage was at its peak. We left High Rock around 3:30 p.m., knowing that we had 3.4 miles left to return to the parking lot and we had the prime timeframe to reach the parking lot before sunset.

Around 3:35 p.m., we were walking down a path that was not treacherous. My husband was in front of me on the trail. There was a natural decline and there was nothing out of the ordinary on this stretch of the trail. That’s when my left foot slipped on pine needles, and as my left leg extended straight out (down the path), my right leg went behind me. I heard an audible pop and felt a pop in my right ankle. We knew immediately that my right ankle was broken. What we didn’t know was that it was broken in two places. My husband helped me secure my ankle so it wouldn’t move, and he quickly called 911 around 3:40 p.m.

Various teams in Kentucky assembled at the entrance to the trail. They gathered all their equipment and supplies knowing they had a 3.4-mile trek before them to reach us. The team arrived at our location at 7:30p p.m. and they began assessing my injuries and then loaded me into the “Stokes Basket.” Because of the rugged terrain it took until 3:30 a.m. on Monday to reach the parking lot and load up in the ambulance.

I was transported to the Whitesburg ARH Hospital emergency room and my ankle was “set” and wrapped. Since the accident, I’ve seen an orthopedic surgeon in Prestonsburg and my surgery was set for November 2.

This was a fluke accident. My husband and I are avid hikers, and this misstep could have had a different ending if I hadn’t received the best care in the field. A broken ankle isn’t deadly (per se) when you are on a trail; however, it’s the elements that make a broken ankle a game changer ( going into shock, dehydration, hypothermia).

Triage was set up a mile before the parking lot and I honestly received some of the best care of my life right there in the woods. The following agencies worked for 12 hours to make my rescue a success and I’m forever grateful to each of them:

• Fleming Neon Fire & Rescue
• Making Volunteer Fire
Department
• Whitesburg Fire Department
• Jenkins Volunteer Fire
Department
• Sandlick Volunteer Fire
Department
• Letcher County Fire & Rescue
• Gordon Volunteer Fire
Department
• Pine Mountain Search &
Rescue
• EMT Jesse and EMT Janice
with Neon EMS
• Whitesburg ARH Hospital ER
Department
Thanks to all from the Hiker
with The Broken Ankle.

ASHLEY PANGLE CHANDLER
Wise, Virginia

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