Civilian-military mission to rescue injured hunter

Pennsylvania National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Menoher observes first responders transporting a patient that he and other members of the Pennsylvania Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team rescued moments before (Pennsylvania National Guard)

In the US, the Pennsylvania National Guard has reported how members of the Pennsylvania Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (PA-HART) saved a hunter with life-threatening injuries in Blair County on 22 November.

First responders on the ground called for the team’s assistance through Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, according to Lt Col Michael Girvin, commander of 2nd Battalion (General Support), 104th Aviation Regiment. The responders needed to move the victim quickly and the remote heavily wooded terrain made the extraction difficult for wheeled vehicles.

This was the first in-state PA-HART rescue mission, said Girvin, although the team has been training to do this since 2006. The Pennsylvania National Guard has performed other military-only hoist rescues during domestic emergencies.

The unique capabilities of the team’s aircraft, a Pennsylvania National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk piloted by Chief Warrant Officer 4 Keith Hogan and Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Menoher, configured with a medevac package including a hoist, was ideal for this scenario. “We launched from the Army Aviation Support Facility #2 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where the aircraft is located and crew works,” explained Hogan. “It took us about 20 minutes’ flying time until we reached the patient’s location. We started to hover above the tree line and sent Scott Grahn and Ricky Price [civilian rescue technicians] down on the hoist to assist the patient and first responders on the ground while Staff Sgt Benjamin Turgeon operated the hoist.”

After the patient was loaded onto the aircraft, the pilots and crew transported them to a nearby field. There they were moved to a civilian medevac aircraft and transported to a nearby hospital.

“The patient was relieved to see us,” said Hogan, “and we were happy to help, this is exactly what we train for and we’re ready to be called upon for the next rescue mission.”

The PA-HART is a joint partnership between the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency along with credentialed civilian rescue technicians.

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