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NAS Whidbey Island SAR Assists with Rescue at Mount St. Helens

28 July 2023

From Welding

NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – A Search and Rescue (SAR) team from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island assisted in the rescue of an injured hiker off Mount St. Helens on July 27, 2023. Late Wednesday night, July 26, the SAR team received a request for assistance for a 63-year-old hiker who broke his ankle while trekking on the southern rim
NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – A Search and Rescue (SAR) team from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island assisted in the rescue of an injured hiker off Mount St. Helens on July 27, 2023.
 
Late Wednesday night, July 26, the SAR team received a request for assistance for a 63-year-old hiker who broke his ankle while trekking on the southern rim of Mount St. Helens at an altitude over 7’500 ft.  Mount St. Helen’s Volcano Rescue Team (VRT) made the request for aerial transport to a lower elevation recovery area due to the steep rocky terrain and high altitude.
 
The SAR team launched just after midnight on July 27 and arrived on scene about shortly after 1 a.m. Upon arrival, the SAR crew immediately spotted lights used by the VRT who had reached the patient’s location.
 
After making a visual inspection of the area to determine the best course of action, the crew conducted a one-wheel landing on a mountain-side shoulder to insert two SAR team members with a litter.
 
While the SAR rescue team worked to secure the injured hiker, the SAR aviators conducted another in-flight visual inspection to scope out the landing area where an ambulance was waiting to transport the patient. Once the rescue team was ready for pickup, the Aviators conducted a second approach to a hover over the injured hiker and hoisted both him and the team from the side of the mountain. The SAR crew then dropped the patient off with the ambulance crew shortly before 2 a.m. and returned to base by 4 a.m. 
 
Naval Air Station Whidbey Island SAR has conducted 23 missions this calendar year, which includes 1 MEDEVAC, 4 searches and 18 rescues.
 
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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