FORT HARRISON, Mont. – Soldiers of the Montana Army National Guard’s 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion rescued an injured hunter in the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming Nov. 3.
The Guard was contacted at 10:30 a.m. and asked to conduct an air rescue of an 80-year-old man who had fallen off his horse, injuring his hip and leg.
“When we received the call we already had an aircraft set up with about 90% of the equipment onboard because we were heading out to do a training flight to train this exact type of exercise,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jenn Hoover, the Montana Army National Guard Army Aviation Support Facility safety officer.
The pilot had never performed a rescue, so the crew was adjusted to place those with experience on the now-real mission.
Hoover and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Travis Gronley piloted the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. Sgt. Carl Boike was the crew chief, and Staff Sgt. Andrew Christensen and Sgt. Isaac McKean were the flight medics.
The aircraft took off just after noon and arrived at the Cody airport at 1:50 p.m. Crew members met with the sheriff and a civilian medical evacuation helicopter pilot before flying to the recovery site.
The crew located the injured hunter at 2:28 p.m. Christensen was lowered to the man on a hoist cable and began caring for him and preparing him for transport.
“We used a stokes basket and a backboard to hoist the patient to the helicopter,” said Christensen. “We were able to use his sleeping bag to keep the patient warm, as well as our [hypothermia prevention and management kits], and we also started him on fluids.”
Christensen said his main objective was to stabilize the patient enough to be hoisted into the helicopter and flown to Cody.
“At that point, I never lose patient contact, so I’m with him from the start to the end,” said Christensen.
“We were able to drop the patient off in Cody, where there was an ambulance waiting to transport him to the hospital,” said Hoover. “The flight medics accompanied the patient to the hospital on the ambulance, continuing to assist with his care until they arrived at the hospital.”
Hoover said after the medics collected their equipment and returned to the airport, the crew returned to Helena.
“I think training is one thing,” said Hoover, “but actually executing the mission is what drives the passion of our aviators, our medics, our crew members to stay in the National Guard and continue to perform the mission for the state.”