VERNON — Thanks to GPS tracking software in an injured hiker's cell phone first responders were able to find him and get him the medical attention he needed.

The unidentified 37-year-old man called 911 on Saturday morning after hiking on the "Stairway to Heaven" section of the Appalachian trail, according to the Vernon Police Department. The man told the 911 operator he had fallen close to 10 feet and had suffered a head injury while he was walking alone.

Even before first responders got to the man, dispatcher James Ditacconi was able to give him some basic instructions on things he could do to help himself. The man was also helped by other hikers on the trail, including a couple of nurse practitioners, police said.

Eventually Officer Adam Krause and Tracy and Scott Berge of the Glenwood Pochuck Ambulance Squad were able to reach the man. They were also joined by firefighters and the New Jersey State Park Police. While first responders came from the top and bottom of the mountain, it was determined that the man would need to be removed by helicopter. As a result three aircraft from the US Coast Guard and the New Jersey State Police responded to the scene.

Ultimately, it was the Coast Guard helicopter that was able to lower a basket down to the victim and help get him away from the scene. He was then transferred to a State Police helicopter, which took him to St. Joseph's Hospital in Paterson.

"While accidents can happen to even the most experienced hikers it should be noted that this section of the Appalachian Trail is significantly more difficult than the 'Boardwalk' section of the trail," Vernon police said in a statement. "Please always use extreme caution and make sure you are prepared for the terrain you will encounter when hiking in this area."


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