YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. – Soldiers assigned to the United States Army Air Ambulance Detachment- Yakima (USAAAD), 2-158 Assault Helicopter Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade performed an aeromedical evacuation of a civilian near Mount Adams, Wash on Sept. 1, 2022.
The mission started on Aug. 31 when the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office requested federal support through the Washington State Emergency Operations Center for a high-powered helicopter with hoist capability to assist in the search for a hiker on Mount Adams.
At 12:12 p.m. on Aug. 31, a USAAAD UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter picked up two Central Washington Mountain Rescue civilian search-and-rescue volunteers from the Sheriff’s Office and transported them to Piker’s Peak, the 11,000 foot false summit on Mount Adams, where they were deployed at 1:12 p.m.
“The collaboration between USAAAD and CWMR significantly benefits the public, especially in remote, high-elevation search-and-rescue situations. CWMR’s hasty team insertion by USAAAD resulted in much faster care for the subject than what would have been possible by ground resources alone,” said Andy Shaw, one of the two CMWR volunteers who flew on-board the Army helicopter.
Unable to locate the lost climber, the two CMWR volunteers hiked down to the Lunch Counter base camp and spent the night so that they could resume the search in the morning. Early the next morning, on Sept. 1, the hiker was located by another Washington-based volunteer search-and-rescue group, Volcano Rescue Team.
“We were called back out to transport the patient in the morning because he couldn’t move on his own. Our aircrew arrived on scene but couldn’t find a suitable place to land the aircraft, so they extracted the patient using the hoist and transported him to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital for treatment,” said Capt. Alec DeGroat, USAAAD commander.
The unit is based out of Yakima Training Center in central Washington. USAAAD operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide aeromedical evacuation support for thousands of service members training at Yakima Training Center each year.
Additionally, the detachment works with the Washington State Emergency Operations Center, local sheriff departments, and civilian volunteers to provide rescue coverage in south-central Washington’s remote wilderness areas.
The life-saving aeromedical evacuation is a collaborative effort. As a detachment with 33 personnel and four aircraft, every member of the team is vital to USAAAD.
The 16th Combat Aviation Brigade operates two aeromedical evacuation units that provide defense support to civil authorities: Yakima Dustoff in central Washington and Arctic Dustoff in central Alaska.