Home : News
NEWS | June 21, 2021

Tennessee National Guard aircrew rescues bear attack victim

By Tennessee National Guard

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A Tennessee Army National Guard medical flight crew rescued a camper who was attacked and injured by a bear while sleeping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park area June 18.

Shortly before 7 a.m., the Tennessee Military Department and Tennessee Emergency Management Agency were notified that a camper required immediate medical care at a backcountry campsite 5.7 miles from the Maddron Bald Trailhead. The Tennessee National Guard was alerted for a helicopter rescue.

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from Detachment 1, Company C, 1-171st Aviation Regiment based in Knoxville assembled in less than an hour and arrived at the campsite at approximately 8:45 a.m.

The flight crew included Chief Warrant Officer 3 Andrew Redley, pilot in command, Capt. Philip Webster, pilot, Sgt. Tim Allen, crew chief, and Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Banta, critical care flight paramedic.

With the aircraft unable to land due to terrain, the flight crew began hoist operations. Allen lowered Banta to the patient via rescue hoist, where he performed a medical assessment with the park rangers who were providing initial medical care and ensured the patient was stable enough for hoisting. Banta and the patient were lifted into the helicopter, which departed for the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. The entire hoisting operation took 14 minutes.

While onboard, the aircrew continued medical aid to the patient during the 20-minute flight to the hospital.

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