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NAS Whidbey SAR Rescues Hiker in Olympic National Forest

19 September 2022


A Search and Rescue (SAR) team from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island rescued a stranded hunter trapped on a cliff face near Mt. Constance in the Olympic National Forest on Sept. 18, 2022.
A Search and Rescue (SAR) team from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island rescued a stranded hunter trapped on a cliff face near Mt. Constance in the Olympic National Forest on Sept. 18, 2022.
The SAR crew received an alert about the hunter who was stranded since the following day and was suffered from fatigue and sever hydration. Ground rescue personnel from the Jefferson County Search and Rescue (JSAR) unit were near the scene yet unable to reach the man due to the dangerous terrain.
After making an initial pass to survey the hazards in the immediate vicinity, the SAR crew decided to employ a direct deployment to reach the stranded hunter who was located on a small confined ledge that was precariously close to 70 ft. drop to another cliff outcropping. A direct deployment involves a procedure where a Recue Aircrewman remains on the hoist while a helicopter conducts its maneuvers.
The SAR pilot was able to get the rescue crewman into position next to the stranded hunter while it hovered about 80 ft. above ground. After placing a rescue strop around the man they were able to hoist him aboard the helicopter where they began treating him for dehydration and fatigue. Prior to departing for the Olympic Medical Center (OMC) in Port Angeles the crew picked up two JSAR to extract them from the remote terrain. After dropping the rescued hunter at OMC just before 11 a.m. the SAR crew flew the JSAR personnel to Jefferson County International Airport before returning to NAS Whidbey Island.
Naval Air Station Whidbey Island SAR has conducted 30 missions this calendar year, which includes nine MEDEVACs, sixteen rescues, and five searches.
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.

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