By John Reese, USAG Garmisch Public AffairsFebruary 10, 2009
GARMISCH, Germany - Usually, it's peaceful on Artillery Kaserne, the main post for U.S. Army Garrison Garmisch, with the exceptions being ski competitions or a busy day at the sole AAFES gasoline station in southern Bavaria. So the loud whomp-whomp-whomp of a bright yellow civilian helicopter circling overhead at treetop level Feb. 4 drew curious Soldiers and civilians from their offices.
It was obvious that the bird was going to land on the garrison's helipad - used for sporadic Black Hawk visits - located on Sheridan Kaserne several hundred yards away, to assist an injured civilian who had fallen near the main gate. Fortunately, both the provost marshal and Military Police operations sergeant happened to be nearby and witnessed the incident.
"We immediately requested an ambulance and Capt. Scott Woida started first aid," said Sgt. First Class Christopher Allison, provost sergeant.
And, Allison said, "There happened to be an ADAC medical helicopter with a doctor near the kaserne when the call took place. The (crew) decided to land to see if they could render assistance."
The ADAC (German Automobile Club) rescue helicopter, the Christoph Murnau, was passing overhead and monitored the call as German emergency medical services were alerted for an ambulance.
A Notzart (emergency doctor) usually arrives in a specially marked emergency car, along with an ambulance, so the helicopter was a surprise. ADAC pilot Burkhard Schneider and co-pilot Stephan KnAfAPdler spied a suitable landing zone on the empty motorcycle safety test course. The ample blacktop lot located near the back of the kaserne is a large area free of obstructions.
After a couple passes, Schneider decided the course, unused in winter, provided an appropriate landing zone as he settled the bird gently onto the impromptu helipad.
Garrison personnel reacted even before the aircraft touched down.
Bob Laird, the Auto Craft Shop manager and a former Army chopper pilot who flew missions in Vietnam, was the first to arrive, closely followed by Fire Chief Wolfgang Pauls-Polch and Mark Kravis, a retired MP and the site contracting officer for Pond Security.
"I heard a helicopter ... looked to the sky and knew they were landing. I didn't know why, but it had to be an emergency," said Pauls-Polch. "I got in my truck and drove over."
Kravis, who was on foot, used his cell phone to contact the MP station for details.
"The doctor wanted to know the patient's location; I just handed him my phone, and the officer at the desk gave him the information," said Kravis.
Pauls-Polch used his fire truck to transport the Notzart to the front gate, where he treated the patient, determining that the injuries were not life-threatening. The symptoms the man exhibited originally made the first responders think he had suffered a more serious injury due to his speech and mannerisms. However, the doctor determined he had suffered a stroke in the past, the cause for his slowed speech and actions.
As a conventional ambulance arrived to pick up the man, another emergency call came in for the Murnau Christoph. The ambulance rushed the doctor back to his helicopter, as the awaiting pilot had restarted the engine, and then sped off for the Garmisch hospital with the injured man, who was released shortly afterwards.
Although the landing of a civilian rescue helicopter on the garrison is unusual, ADAC helicopters passing overhead are a common site in Garmisch. For example, an ADAC helicopter conducted operations at the base of Kramer Mountain, just north of the garrison, during the 2009 Alpine Skiing World Cup races held Jan. 30 to Feb. 1.
ADAC also made a night landing on the former tennis courts of the Abram's Complex (formerly Armed Forces Recreation Center's Green Arrow Hotel) for an emergency transport to a trauma injury hospital in Murnau after a German child was critically injured when he slipped and fell from a roof Nov. 13, 2007.
"We have an agreement between the United States and Germany allowing them to land in case of an emergency," said Pauls-Polch.
As for this most recent incident, Allison summed it up with: "Everyone worked like a professional."