NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – A Search and Rescue (SAR) team from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island conducted a rescue mission Sunday, May 7 in a mountainous area near the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
The crew launched at approximately 7:10 p.m. in response to a call from a female hiker who was stuck and unreachable, with unknown injuries at approximately 8,500 feet.
Chelan County Sheriff’s department responded to the incident earlier in the day and maintained control of the scene. However, they were unable to reach the survivor in their OH-58 helicopter due to power limitations.
After locating the survivor at 7:45 p.m., the crew determined the best option was to lower the SAR Medical Technician (SMT) down via rescue hoist. Once with the survivor, the SMT found she had no injuries but was extremely cold from being stuck on the ledge since 11 a.m.
The patient was turned over to the Chelan County Sheriff at 8:15 p.m. and the SAR crew returned to NAS Whidbey Island with no further incident.
This was the sixth rescue of 2017 for NAS Whidbey Island SAR, which has also conducted four searches and 13 Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions this year.
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.