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 Gilbert Peak, Wash. on Sept. 21, 2022.
The mission started when the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office requested federal support through the Washington State Emergency Operations Center for a high-powered helicopter with hoist capability to recover an ill hiker in the Goat Rocks Wilderness.
At 3:37 p.m., a USAAAD UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter departed Yakima Training Center.
“We had to fly near the outer edge of an FAA restricted flying area due to the nearby Goat Rocks Fire,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 William Craven, pilot in command for the mission. “The air was full of smoke, but we were able to spot the patient waving a white sheet; fortunately, we found a place to land about 100 meters away and did not need the hoist.”
At approximately 4:00 p.m. the helicopter landed and deployed their critical care flight paramedic.
“This was a fairly straightforward mission,” said Maj. Alec DeGroat, USAAAD commander. “We’ve had several technical hoist rescues this year but our crew was able to land which makes this difficult work a little bit easier for our aircrews and the patient.”
The flight paramedic was able to assist the patient, a 58-year-old male that had begun suffering fatigue and dehydration from getting ill, to the Black Hawk helicopter for transport to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. The patient is expected to make a full recovery.
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.