KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A medical flight crew from the Tennessee National Guard evacuated a hypothermic hiker from the Appalachian Trail by helicopter Jan. 18.
Shortly after 9:30 a.m., the Tennessee Military Department and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency were notified of a stranded hiker near Gregory Bald in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The hiker was suffering from hypothermic conditions after becoming disoriented and getting lost in heavy snowfall.
Once alerted, the Tennessee National Guard began preparing for an emergency rescue mission. A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from Detachment 1, Company C, 1-171st Aviation Regiment, based in Knoxville, took off in less than 30 minutes with Chief Warrant Officer 3 Andrew Ridley, pilot in command; 1st Lt. Justin Hyler, pilot; Sgt. Chris Farrar, crew chief, and flight paramedics Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Banta and Sgt. 1st Class Giovanni DeZuani.
Just after 10:30 a.m., the flight crew located the hiker in a snowy ravine. Farrar lowered Banta on the helicopter rescue hoist to the patient for a medical assessment. Next, he hoisted DeZuani down to assist in the rescue. Shortly after 11 a.m., Farrar hoisted the patient and both paramedics into the aircraft. The crew rendered aid to the hiker as the aircraft flew to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.
At approximately 11:50 a.m., the aircraft landed at UT Medical Center. The entire rescue mission took less than an hour and a half.