This hero travels beyond his hometown to save lives  


Monitor staff

Published: 06-08-2023 4:32 PM

Scott Carpenter travels for work.

One day, he may have an appointment on a mountain somewhere, other days on a huge rock, still others trudging through waist-deep snow. And sometimes, he’ll work at a senior housing complex, breathing life into people, which has evolved into his main function, no matter where his place of business takes him.

Carpenter, a 65-year-old Wilmot resident, has been the team captain for the Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team, based out of the Hanover Fire Department, for nearly 20 years.

His job is physically demanding and, at retirement age, he admits he’s got his “creaks and his aches and pains. You just keep going.”

He’s got 40 people working under him on a dangerous job that often includes high altitudes and nasty weather. And as an EMT for the Wilmot Fire Department, Carpenter receives even more chances to save lives, or at least comfort people, sometimes gently holding their hands.

That’s why Carpenter’s colleague at the Wilmot Fire Department, Kelsie Clark, sent information to the Monitor about Carpenter’s round-the-clock missions, often overlooked by the public.

“No matter the call, Scott is ready to provide the best care possible for his patients,” Clark wrote. “Over the last five years, Scott has been the top responder for the department. It’s actually quite uncommon for the department to respond to a call without Scott on the scene.”

Carpenter moved with his parents from Massachusetts to the Granite State 45 years ago. He says one day his wife pointed to a magazine ad that explained a need for search-and-rescue operations in the area.

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Within one year, Carpenter was an executive officer and six years later he was named Team Leader, a post he still holds. He said he’s never lost anybody during the approximately 400 calls he’s been on over the years.

“Knock on wood,” Carpenter said, “All of my team members are well-versed in being outside in the winter. They know about the winter and rock faces and cliffs. There’s definitely a dangerous component. Can we mitigate it? Yes.”

Carpenter’s dual role in safety sometimes absorbs his life. The UVWRT’s rescue missions extend to Vermont, which does not fund such a program. The Vermont State Police call the UVWRT if help is needed to rescue someone or save a life.

That’s led to 2½-hour drives to reach emergency locations. Some searches have lasted three or four days. Lost and weak hikers and adventurers, called carry-offs, pose a challenge, and Carpenter mentioned a rescue on Mount Monadnock two years ago, when three carry-offs added to an already dangerous and lengthy process.

The job can be all-encompassing, with nutty hours and long drives. To prepare, Carpenter stores a 24-hour pack at the ready, with enough clothing and nourishment to last one full day. The pack is stored in a back room of his home.

Carpenter is in his 25th season working in rescue. His skill is forever in demand. Just a few days ago he helped find a man who had gone missing overnight.

The next morning, he went on a medical call. Later, when asked how the patient was doing, Carpenter said divulging information about a patient could be unethical. He declined to give details about any of his cases or procedures.

He’s trained to administer life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation, suggesting that, after 20-plus years in the business, Carpenter has seen death close up.

He said nothing, other than to downplay his life-saving role in this medical process.

“I can tell you what I do,” Carpenter said. “I get patients to the hospital.”