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 Sauk in Concrete, Wash., the evening of Saturday, April 22, 2017.
Around 7 p.m. the base’s SAR Alert crew launched in response to a report of a lost and injured 19-year hiker, possibly suffering from hypothermia on Mount Sauk. The crew proceeded to the last known location of the hiker, determined via cell phone signal triangulation. Once on scene the crew made contact with a local Skagit County deputy. Dense trees and limited visibility made it difficult to spot the injured man on the ground, but he was able to direct the crew to his position through a 911 dispatcher who was then able to relay that information to the sheriff’s deputy who had contact with the SAR crew.
After going into a hover over the hiker’s position, the crew’s Search and Rescue Medical Technician (SMT) rappelled more than 130 feet down to assess and retrieve the man. Once aboard the aircraft the crew treated the man for hypothermia by wrapping him in blankets and administering warm IVs before transporting him to higher level care at Skagit Medical Center.
This was the fifth rescue mission of 2017 for NAS Whidbey Island SAR, which has also conducted four searches and 13 MEDEVACs totaling 19 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.