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Whidbey Island SAR Conducts Second Mission at Mount St. Helens

11 August 2023


A Search and Rescue (SAR) team from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island assisted in the rescue of an ill hiker in vicinity of Mount St. Helens on Aug. 7, 2023.
A Search and Rescue (SAR) team from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island assisted in the rescue of an ill hiker in vicinity of Mount St. Helens on Aug. 7, 2023.
In the afternoon, the SAR team received a request for assistance for a man needing medical attention while trekking around Castle Lake near Mount St. Helens at an approximate altitude of 2’800 ft.
During the 125 nautical mile transit, the Helicopter Inland Rescue Aircrewman maintained communications with the on-ground rescue team for updated information and obtained coordinates for the location of a waiting ambulance.

SAR reached the ailing man’s location around 4:40 p.m. and hoisted him aboard the aircraft by 5 p.m. for the transit to the waiting ambulance. After completing the rescue mission, SAR made it back to base just before 7:30 that evening.

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island SAR has conducted 24 missions this calendar year, which includes 1 MEDEVAC, 4 searches and 19 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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