NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – A Search and Rescue (SAR) team of five from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island rescued a hiker off of Mount Erie in Anacortes, Wash. on Sunday, April 16, 2017.
Early that evening, the weekend SAR Alert crew received notification that a hiker had fallen approximately 45 feet on Mount Erie and had a broken leg. The crew located the injured hiker on a 900-ft high ledge, accompanied by eight firefighters who initially responded to assist. After making several passes, the helicopter went into a hover and had two crewmembers rappel down then extract him via the aircraft’s hoist. The crew flew the injured man to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Wash., where he was delivered to a higher level of care.
Earlier that afternoon, the SAR Alert crew also launched on a search mission in response to a Personal Locator Beacon and a report of overdue hikers on the Coleman-Deming Route on Mount. Baker. The group of three hikers was located quickly once the crew was on scene and it was determined that all hikers were ok and they were simply delayed on their trip back down the glacier.
This was the fourth rescue mission of 2017 for NAS Whidbey Island SAR, which has also conducted four searches and 13 MEDEVACs totaling 18 lives delivered to a higher level of care.
The Navy SAR unit operates three MH-60S helicopters from NAS Whidbey Island as search and rescue/medical evacuation (SAR/MEDEVAC) platforms for the EA-18G aircraft as well as other squadrons and personnel assigned to the installation. Pursuant to the National SAR Plan of the United States, the unit may also be used for civil SAR/MEDEVAC needs to the fullest extent practicable on a non-interference basis with primary military duties according to applicable national directives, plans, guidelines and agreements; specifically, the unit may launch in response to tasking by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (based on a Washington State Memorandum of Understanding) for inland missions, and/or tasking by the United States Coast Guard for all other aeronautical and maritime regions, when other assets are unavailable.