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NEWS | June 14, 2024

Tennessee Guard Rescues Hiker in Great Smoky Mountains Park

By Lt. Col. Darrin Haas, Tennessee National Guard Public Affairs Office

LOUISVILLE, Tenn. – A Tennessee Army National Guard flight crew rescued a hiker who was having a medical emergency in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park June 12.

Shortly after 7 p.m., the Tennessee National Guard and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency were notified that a hiker was suffering cardiac distress and needed to get to a hospital quickly. The hiker was in a remote area at the Double Spring Gap Shelter south of Gatlinburg, near the North Carolina border.

Ten minutes after the mission was approved, the Tennessee National Guard flight crew and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter departed Joint Base McGhee-Tyson and flew to the Double Spring Gap Shelter.

The crew comprised two pilots, 1st Lt. Gavin Huffman and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert Koons, crew chief Sgt. Daniel Bandy, and two flight paramedics, Sgt. 1st Class Giovanni DeZuani and Staff Sgt. Sarah Hanna.

Twenty minutes after launching, the aircraft arrived at the shelter and located the hiker and park rangers who were rendering first aid.

Just before 8:30 p.m., Bandy lowered DeZuani to the ground by hoist to perform a quick medical assessment and prepare the hiker for flying. After a few minutes, the hiker and DeZuani were hoisted into the hovering helicopter. While the paramedics continued to provide first aid, the aircraft flew to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

The aircraft landed at the medical center at about 8:50. Medical personnel rushed the patient into the emergency room, and the aircraft returned to Louisville, landing just before 9:30 p.m.



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