NEWS | May 12, 2021

Tennessee National Guard aircrew rescues stranded hiker

By Tennessee National Guard

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A Tennessee Army National Guard medical flight crew rescued a hiker who was having difficulty breathing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park May 9.

Shortly before 7 a.m., the Tennessee Military Department and Tennessee Emergency Management Agency were notified of a hiker who needed immediate medical care near the Tri Corner Knob Shelter along the Appalachian Trail. The Tennessee National Guard was alerted for a helicopter rescue.

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew from Detachment 1, Company C, 1-171st Aviation Regiment, based in Knoxville assembled in less than an hour and launched, arriving at the Tri Corner Knob Shelter at approximately 9 a.m.

The flight crew included Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Backus, pilot in command; Capt. Philip Draper, pilot; Staff Sgt. Joseph Hough, crew chief; Spc. Joshua Culotta, crew chief, and Sgt. 1st Class Giovanni DeZuani, flight paramedic

Unable to land due to terrain, Culotta lowered DeZuani to the patient via rescue hoist. DeZuani did a quick medical assessment, provided first aid and ensured the patient was stable enough for hoisting. Dezuani and the patient were lifted safely into the helicopter, which departed for the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. The entire hoisting operation took 12 minutes.

The aircrew continued medical aid to the patient during the 20-minute flight to the hospital.

"The rescue mission went off flawlessly," said Col. Jay Deason, the state Army aviation officer. "Once we were notified of the mission, the flight crew immediately jumped into action. They are a well-trained and experienced crew that are true professionals at what they do."

This is the second search and rescue mission by the Tennessee National Guard this year.