KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – During the night of Sept. 2, a medical flight crew from the Tennessee Army National Guard performed an emergency air evacuation mission for a hiker suffering a severe illness in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Tennessee National Guard and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency were notified of a sick hiker needing medical assistance and evacuation to a nearby hospital. The hiker was in a remote park area just west of Mount LeConte.
A little more than an hour after being notified, TEMA approved the mission and Tennessee National Guardsmen assigned to the 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion assembled a flight crew, prepared a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, and launched to rescue the hiker.
The Tennessee Army National Guard flight crew consisted of two pilots, Capt. Brandon Rodriguez and 1st Lt. Justin Hyler, a crew chief, Staff Sgt. Joseph Hough, and a flight paramedic, Sgt. 1st Class Giovanni DeZuani.
The aircrew departed McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Base and arrived at the rescue site minutes later. The crew quickly located the hiker and the park rangers, who were rendering first aid.
The aircraft crew chief, Hough, lowered DeZuani, the fight paramedic, to the ground by hoist to perform a quick medical assessment and prepare the hiker for transport. After a few minutes of rendering aid, the hiker was connected to a rescue strop and hoisted into the Black Hawk helicopter hovering above. DeZuani was also hoisted into the aircraft and continued aiding the patient. Once everyone was onboard, the aircraft flew to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.
The aircraft landed at UT Medical Center, where medical personnel received the hiker and rushed the patient into the emergency room. The entire rescue mission took less than an hour and a half.