A UH-60L Black Hawk assigned to the U.S. Army Air Ambulance Detachment-Yakima, 2-158 Assault Helicopter Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, hovers over the Wenatchee National Forest near Leavenworth, Wash. during a rescue mission on Oct 4, 2023. The unit was responding to a request for Federal support from the Chelan County Sheriff's Office to rescue a severely injured hiker. (Photo courtesy of Chelan County Mountain Rescue)
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A UH-60L Black Hawk assigned to the U.S. Army Air Ambulance Detachment-Yakima, 2-158 Assault Helicopter Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, hovers over the Wenatchee National Forest near Leavenworth, Wash. during a rescue mission on Oct 4, 2023. The unit was responding to a request for Federal support from the Chelan County Sheriff's Office to rescue a severely injured hiker. (Photo courtesy of Chelan County Mountain Rescue) (Photo Credit: Capt. Kyle Abraham) VIEW ORIGINAL
A UH60L Blackhawk helicopter belonging to Charlie Company, 1-52 General Support Aviation Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, is parked on the airfield  at Fort Wainwright while its crew prepares for a mission. The aurora borealis puts on a show overhead. (Cg)
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A UH60L Blackhawk helicopter belonging to Charlie Company, 1-52 General Support Aviation Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, is parked on the airfield at Fort Wainwright while its crew prepares for a mission. The aurora borealis puts on a show overhead. (Cg) (Photo Credit: helicopter rescue) VIEW ORIGINAL
MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER, Ind. – U.S. Army Soldiers in a Blackhawk MEDEVAC helicopter, on their way to an air rescue training mission at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, during Guardian Response 22. Guardian Response provides realistic training for National Guardsmen, Army Reservists, and Active Duty Soldiers to train and evaluate CBRN response in a realistic training environment. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christian Cote)
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER, Ind. – U.S. Army Soldiers in a Blackhawk MEDEVAC helicopter, on their way to an air rescue training mission at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, during Guardian Response 22. Guardian Response provides realistic training for National Guardsmen, Army Reservists, and Active Duty Soldiers to train and evaluate CBRN response in a realistic training environment. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christian Cote) (Photo Credit: Spc. Christian Cote) VIEW ORIGINAL

JBLM, Wash. – Soldiers assigned to the United States Army Air Ambulance Detachment - Yakima, or USAAAD, 2-158th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, performed an aeromedical evacuation of a civilian near Colchuck Lake, Wash., on Jan 6, 2023.

USAAAD, which provides support through Defense Support of Civil Authorities that is closely connected to Washington State Emergency Operation Center, got the call that a 36-year-old male was suffering from hypothermia after becoming trapped in a snowstorm near Mount Stuart and was unable to get himself out of the situation.

“After we had flown over the [man’s] last known location three times, the crew finally spotted the patient signaling, and we immediately had to put the helicopter in a position to execute our hoist due to the diminishing visibility, high wind conditions, and fuel considerations,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Terry Wald, pilot in command.

Despite dangerous conditions for the rescue crew, USAAAD sprang into action once they received the call. There were a couple of hurdles to jump over before the crew could rescue him. The weather conditions in the area were fluctuating, making it difficult for the crew to fly to his position.

“We were able to rescue the patient expeditiously, and I’m very proud of our team,” Wald said. “I’m glad we had the crew that we did; USAAAD’s standardization pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Matt Kravulski, was on the controls for the 180-ft hoist. Sgt. Kris Paranteau, a crew chief for the unit, did a great job controlling the hoist while Sgt. Dylan Draper, our critical care flight paramedic, was lowered to the patient. We had the full confidence of the command team. I felt confident making the decision to execute the mission with our experienced crew.”

After rescuing the man, he was rushed to a local hospital. He was hypothermic, but he recovered shortly after and was discharged in good condition.

“A mission like this underscores the professionalism of our critical care flight paramedic Soldiers and aircrew,” said Maj. Alec DeGroat, USAAAD commander and co-pilot on this mission.

“I’m glad we got there when we did; he would not have made it much longer. I’m happy we were able to be there for this guy on his worst day,” said Sgt. Dylan Draper, a critical care flight paramedic for USAAAD.

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 central Washington’s remote wilderness areas.

The life-saving aeromedical evacuation is a collaborative effort. As a detachment with 33 personnel and four UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters, every member of the team is vital to USAAAD.

“This mission was a great way to start off the year; it reminded everyone at USAAAD why we do what we do every day,” said Capt. Terra Crown, USAAAD platoon leader. “Our busy season for DSCA missions is usually the summer and early fall, but we are always ready to respond to save a life, any day of the year.”

Last year, USAAAD was recognized for its dedication to its mission and was inducted into the Order of the Bayonet.

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.