Search and rescue teams from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island rescued two people in two days.
On Sept. 18, a team responded to a stranded hunter trapped on a cliff face near Mount Constance in the Olympic National Forest. The SAR crew received an alert about the hunter who was stranded since the prior day and was suffering from fatigue and severe hydration. Ground rescue personnel from the Jefferson County Search and Rescue unit were near the scene yet unable to reach the man due to the dangerous terrain.
After making an initial pass to survey the hazards in the immediate vicinity, the SAR crew decided to employ a direct deployment to reach the stranded hunter who was located on a small confined ledge that was precariously close to 70-foot drop to another cliff outcropping. A direct deployment involves a procedure where a rescue aircrewman remains on the hoist while a helicopter conducts its maneuvers.
The SAR pilot was able to get the rescue crewman into position next to the stranded hunter while the helicopter hovered about 80 feet above ground. After placing a rescue strop around the man, the crew hoisted him aboard the helicopter and he was treated for dehydration and fatigue. Prior to departing for the Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles, the crew also picked up two Jefferson County Search and Rescue crew members from the remote terrain.
After dropping the rescued hunter at a medical center, the crew flew the rescue personnel to Jefferson County International Airport.
On Sept. 19, a SAR crew rescued a 73-year-old female hiker with a broken ankle on the Yellow Aster Butte Trail northeast of Mount Baker.
The crew was alerted at a little before 6 p.m. that a hoist rescue was required and launched at about 6:30 p.m. after getting more refined information from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and fire rescue crews who had hiked to the patient. When the SAR crew members arrived at the location, they found the winds and elevation were too dangerous for a hoist rescue so they landed approximately 60 yards upslope on the crest of a ridge.
With the help of the rescue personnel on the ground, the patient was carried up to the aircraft. The patient was dropped off at St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham just before 7:30 p.m.
NAS Whidbey SAR has conducted 31 missions this calendar year, which includes nine medevacs, 17 rescues and five searches.