NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – A Search and Rescue (SAR) team from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island rescued a 64-year-old man who suffered serious injuries in a fall on Mount Stuart in Chelan County on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017.
NAS Whidbey Island received notification from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) about the injured man Sunday night. In addition to the trauma from the injured man’s fall, the AFRCC indicated the man potentially suffered a traumatic brain injury.
NAS Whidbey’s SAR unit departed from the base around 8 p.m. and reached the location area about 45 minutes later. Due to the rugged terrain and the surrounding jagged spires, the crew decided the best extraction method was a direct hoist deployment to the victim.
Once the medical technician reached the victim, he found the man unconscious and unresponsive. The SAR team was able to quickly hoist the man up to the hovering helicopter and flew him directly to Harborview Medical Center.
According to Lt. Andrew Boyle, the SAR mission commander, this rescue proved to be one of the most challenging he has been involved in during his time at NAS Whidbey Island’s SAR due to high winds in the extraction area as well as visibility constraints due to the smoky haze, power limitations, the terrain and patient’s condition. “I can confidently say that because of our excellent teamwork as a crew, this mission was accomplished safely and expeditiously,” Boyle said.
This was the 28th rescue of 2017 for NAS Whidbey Island SAR, which has also conducted five searches and 14 Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions this year, totaling 53 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 AFRCC (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.