“What’d you do over the weekend?” It’s a common question that college students everywhere ask each other at the beginning of each academic week. Answers usually involve going out with friends, maybe going for a hike, or just catching up on homework. The answer usually doesn’t involve rescuing a severely dehydrated and hypothermic teenager from the side of a mountain.
On Monday, Oct. 5, University of Maine third-year student Jimmy Strickler’s answer was just that. While hiking Mount Katahdin over the weekend with some friends, Strickler encountered a 15-year-old kid who was severely dehydrated and going into hypothermia, as he was not dressed for the cold weather that usually occurs at higher altitudes on mountains. Strickler’s group had already ascended to the peak and were on their way back down the mountain when they found him. Strickler and his friends immediately jumped into action, assessing the situation and trying to render aid to their fellow hiker. When the teenager was not able to drink water without throwing it back up, Strickler and his group knew they would have to carry him to a point where they could call for help. It took them about four hours to carry the kid a mile down the mountain until they made contact with park rangers. After explaining the situation, park rangers informed Strickler that the National Guard was on its way with a helicopter and a medic onboard.
Strickler is a cadet in the Army ROTC program, whose training as a part of the Black Bear Battalion helped him in this situation. The program helped give him fast thinking skills and the drive to continue going down the mountain.
“It definitely helped, it pushed me enough to stay in shape enough to carry the kid down the mountain,” Strickler said.
Lieutenant Colonel Steven Veves, the Black Bear Battalion’s professor of military science and head of the program was very impressed with Stickler’s actions.
“I think Jimmy prepared Jimmy for that; I think our program fosters attributes that Jimmy has, but I think that that action on point on top of that mountain was completed based on who Jimmy is,” Veves said when asked if the program helped prepare Stickler to take the actions he took.
Veves described Strickler’s actions on Mount Katahdin as “selfless service.”
While Strickler and the two friends he was with are appreciative of all of the credit they have been receiving from the community, Strickler doesn’t feel they deserve anything special.
“We totally appreciate it and it’s nice to have the recognition, but there’s people who do a lot more on a day to day basis than what we did,” Strickler explained.
It’s safe to say that had Strickler and his group not been there that day, things could have gone very differently. Thankfully, the individual that Strickler’s group rescued is making a full recovery. With all of the negativity in the world right now, it’s good to see people helping each other. When trying to summit a mountain, it is extremely important to be prepared — always bring plenty of food, water and warm clothing.