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NEWS | Oct. 7, 2020

Colorado Hoist Rescue team, CONG partner to save lives

By Colorado National Guard

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – The Colorado Hoist Rescue Team and Colorado National Guard partnered to change how the military performs hoist rescues.

This innovation shortens the time required for a helicopter to hover above a scene, increasing victims' chances for survival.

The team sourced a bag-based litter system with an anti-rotational brake packaged into a cube with a rescuer and lowered to the victim. Once delivered, the rescuer can unfold the bag and rapidly prepare the patient for extraction.

"This innovation saves lives," said U.S. Army Col. William Gentle, state Army aviation officer. "The large-scale Army integration of dynamic litter hoist operations, through a combination of equipment fielding and aircrew training, will improve the safety margin of all aircrews conducting hoist operations, and act as a dramatic force multiplier on the battlefield."

The CONG has been using this technique and equipment since 2018.

"The improvement of safety in dynamic litter hoist operations will benefit units throughout all services and components, both in combat and domestic support operations," said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Clayton Horney, CHRT program manager. "The Colorado National Guard, through the CHRT, is responsible for all hoist extraction rescues in Colorado, flying an average of 27 missions a year and saving 21 lives during 2019 alone."

Hoist operations are required when a slope is so steep that no part of a helicopter can land to retrieve victims at high altitude.

Local jurisdictions request help, typically through the Colorado Search and Rescue Association to the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, to the CONG Joint Operations Center in Centennial, Colorado. The Joint Task Force – Centennial commander then directs the Colorado Army National Guard to assist.

The COARNG and the CHRT work with elite civilian rescue organizations, domestically and internationally, and incorporate the latest SAR equipment and techniques, to include dynamic litter operations, to complete search and hoist operations in the high-altitude and high-angle terrain in Colorado.