Thursday, July 2, 2009

Oregon Army National Guard co-pilot gives perspective on recent rescue on Mount Hood

This past Sunday, (June 28), a Seattle hiker was rescued after a climbing accident on Mount Hood. From his hospital bed, Kristopher Haskins praised his rescuers, including the Oregon Army National Guard aviation crew who airlifted him off the mountain.

Oregon Army National Guard co-pilot, Maj. Jerry Brennan shared with us his perspective of the rescue mission, in addition to four spectacular photos taken by Portland Mountain Rescue members on the mountain that day.

Here is a quick recap of the mission:

One lone climber with a broken femur stranded at 8,000' after taking a direct hit with a boulder. Unlike the last mission we flew on Hood, this one was quite a bit higher on the challenge meter.

This mission consisted of offloading four Portland Mountain Rescue guys above the patient at 9,000'--nice slope offload landing with one main [landing gear]. We tandem hoisted an AMR RAT Team member off a ridgeline at 5,000' to follow on with the PMR guys (AMR guys had the drugs?) Sgt. Edwards and Merrick found out what a fifty degree slope hoist operation (with tag line) is all about.

Total 4.2 hours of flying time, six hoist interations and one of the tightest LZ's [Landing Zone] at SAR Base I have ever landed in.

We were on the more remote (and technical) west side of the mountain above the Sandy Glacier at the bottom of Cathedral Rock. I particularly enjoyed the photos from PMR through the binoculars and how it gives a sense of the sheer magnitude of Mt. Hood.

When we arrived on scene, the climber was on a small ledge tucked behind a rock so as to not get taken out by another avalanche. He had been up there since 3:00 a.m. His buddy left him to climb down the mountain in order to get help. Other bit of luck (okay, a lot) for this climber was the 50th Anniversary National Search and Rescue Conference going on at Timberline Lodge that weekend, so we had plenty of folks there to help.

-- Maj. Jerry Brennan,
co-pilot, Charlie-7158 Aviation,
Oregon Army National Guard

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