Tennessee National Guard Rescues 2 Injured Hikers

By Lt. Col. Darrin Haas, Tennessee National Guard Public Affairs OfficeJune 4, 2024

Tennessee Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter crew chief Sgt. Daniel Bandy hoists Sgt. 1st Class Giovanni DeZuani, flight paramedic, into the aircraft after rescuing a hiker in respiratory distress in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park at Mount LeConte Lodge May 31, 2024. (submitted photo)
Tennessee Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter crew chief Sgt. Daniel Bandy hoists Sgt. 1st Class Giovanni DeZuani, flight paramedic, into the aircraft after rescuing a hiker in respiratory distress in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park at Mount LeConte Lodge May 31, 2024. (submitted photo) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

LOUISVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Army National Guard flight crews rescued two hikers suffering medical emergencies in separate air evacuation missions in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park area May 31.

Shortly after 2 p.m., the Tennessee National Guard and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency were notified that a hiker in a remote area near Mount LeConte Lodge southeast of Gatlinburg was in respiratory distress in the park.

The Tennessee National Guardsmen assigned to the 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion in Knoxville assembled a flight crew and readied a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to rescue the hiker. Fifteen minutes after the mission was approved, the aircraft departed Joint Base McGhee-Tyson and flew to Mount Leconte Lodge.

The Tennessee Army National Guard flight crew included two pilots, Maj. Hulon Holmes and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Luke Hargrove; the crew chief, Sgt. Daniel Bandy; and two flight paramedics, Sgt. 1st Class Nolan Ogle and Giovanni DeZuani.

Fourteen minutes after launching, the aircraft arrived at the lodge. The crew quickly located the hiker and Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers who were rendering first aid.

Shortly after 4 p.m., Bandy lowered Ogle and DeZuani to the ground by hoist to do a quick medical assessment and prepare the hiker for transport. The hiker was hoisted into the hovering helicopter with the patient's wife and flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

The aircraft arrived at approximately 4:30 p.m. and medical personnel rushed the patient into the emergency room. The Guard flight crew returned to Louisville, landing just before 5 p.m.

At about 7:30 p.m., the Tennessee National Guard was notified a hiker was in possible cardiac distress near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the Alum Cave Trails. TEMA quickly approved the mission and the crew began preflight procedures.

Around 8:15 p.m., the aircraft departed Joint Base McGhee-Tyson and flew to the Alum Cave Trail area southeast of Gatlinburg.

The Tennessee Army National Guard flight crew comprised two pilots: Chief Warrant Officer 4 Brian Spotts and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Brasfield; crew chiefs McKnight and Bandy and flight paramedics Ogle and Giovanni DeZuani.

Fifteen minutes after launching, the Guard crew arrived along the trail and radioed park rangers aiding the hiker. The rangers initiated smoke canisters to identify their location for the Guardsmen.

Shortly before 8:45 p.m., McKnight lowered Ogle to the ground by hoist. He met with the park rangers, assessed the patient and prepared the hiker for the hoist. Ogle and the hiker were hoisted together into the hovering Black Hawk, where he continued aid along with the other paramedic and crew chief while the aircraft flew to the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

The aircraft landed at the medical center at about 9:10 p.m. and medical personnel rushed the patient into the emergency room. The entire rescue mission took less than an hour.

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