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Rescued hiker offers thanks to Carter County, rescue workers

To the editor:
I would like to offer a special thanks to the citizens of Carter County for their outstanding search and rescue team.
I was recently an Appalachian Trail through-hiker and found myself doubled over in pain on the trail near Hampton.
The Carter County team under the direction of PeeWee (John Burleson) was able to traverse numerous logs, boulders, and hazards using their four-wheel drive capacity and winch to reach me, and then transport me to the Sycamore Shoals Hospital for an emergency operation performed by an outstanding surgeon. The professionalism and skill of the Carter County team was evident to me after spending a 34-year career in public safety in California.
They used their skill with a chainsaw and their skill controlling the ATV to carve a pathway through very rough terrain to reach a gravel road and ultimately extensive medical equipment. Without the vital assistance of the Carter County Rescue team, I could have easily died on the trail, as I later learned I had a perforated bowel and was leaking air and gastric fluids into my abdomen.
Many thanks for these heroes who saved my life and the community-concerned citizens who support their efforts.
I plan to be back in Carter County next April to complete the AT, as I am recovering well because I received such prompt help from such outstanding individuals.
Thank you, Carter County.

Richard Birss
Orinda, Calif.