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Home : News
NEWS | Sept. 23, 2022

Tennessee National Guard Rescues Hiker near Appalachian Trail

By Capt. Kealy Moriarty, Tennessee National Guard Public Affairs Office

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A Tennessee National Guard medical flight crew conducted an emergency air evacuation of a hiker suffering chest pains along the Appalachian Trail Sept. 20.

Shortly after 12:30 p.m. EST, the Tennessee Military Department and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency were notified that a 56-year-old hiker was suffering cardiac distress. The hiker was located at the Derrick Knob Shelter off the Appalachian Trail, near the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Due to the severity of the medical emergency, the Tennessee National Guard was alerted to locate and transport the patient to the nearest hospital.

At about 1 p.m., a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and crew assigned to the 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion departed from Louisville, Tennessee, and flew to Derrick Knob Shelter just outside Gatlinburg.

The flight crew included Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Backus, pilot in command; 1st Lt. Brandon Rodriguez, pilot; Sgt. Christopher Farrar, crew chief; and flight paramedics Sgt. 1st Class Giovanni DeZuani and Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Banta.

The flight crew located the patient at the Derrick Knob Shelter, and Farrar lowered Banta and DeZuani from the aircraft. Once on the ground, the flight paramedics medically assessed and readied the patient to be hoisted into the hovering helicopter. Farrar hoisted the patient, Banta and DeZuani into the aircraft, where they continued rendering aid to the patient as they flew to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

After a 20-minute flight, the aircraft landed at UT Medical Center and the patient was rushed to the emergency room. The entire rescue mission took less than one hour.