NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – A Search and Rescue (SAR) team of six from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island conducted a rescue mission on Illabot Peak in the Cascade Mountain Range on September 14, 2016.
While on a night training flight in the Cascade Mountains, the on-call SAR crew received tasking for an overland rescue of a female hiker with a broken ankle. The helicopter crew arrived on scene at approximately 9:30 p.m. and established radio communications with a Skagit SAR ground team. Ground personnel reported that they had moved the patient a short distance to a clearing on the side of the mountain. After a quick search, the crew located the ground team and survivor at an altitude of 5,200 feet. After making several low approaches and conducting power checks, it was determined that landing in the clearing would not be possible, so they set up for a hoist recovery.
The crew positioned the helicopter into a high hover and sent the Search and Rescue Medical Technician (SMT) and Helicopter Inland Rescue Aircrewman (HIRA) down to the clearing via hoist. Once the two were clear, the helicopter departed to circle nearby. After a quick medical assessment, the two crewmen secured the hiker into a rescue litter and readied her for extraction. The helicopter moved into a hover again and first hoisted the SMT with the litter, followed by the HIRA. With everyone back onboard, the crew flew to Skagit Valley Hospital and transferred the patient to higher care.
This was the 21st rescue of 2016 for NAS Whidbey Island SAR, which has also conducted nine searches and eight Medical Evacuation missions this year. The Navy SAR unit operates three MH-60S helicopters from NAS Whidbey Island as search and rescue platforms for the EA-18G aircraft as well as other squadrons and personnel assigned to the installation. The base also has an agreement to assist Washington State and the surrounding areas with medical evacuations and search and rescue activities if other assets are unavailable.