Navy helicopter from NAS Whidbey Island makes second airlift rescue in a week

By DAVID RASBACH | The Bellingham Herald | Published: June 4, 2020

(Tribune News Service) — A helicopter search and rescue team from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island airlifted a 28-year-old female hiker after she suffered a compound arm fracture Wednesday, June 3, on the Twin Sisters in Whatcom County, Washington.

The search and rescue team was notified at approximately 5 p.m. Wednesday that the hiker needed rescue at approximately 5,000 feet near the North Twin, according to a press release on the rescue.

The crew arrived at approximately 6 p.m. on the scene, where a Department of Homeland Security helicopter was also searching for the hiker, the release stated. After a coordinated search of about 10 minutes, the Navy helicopter crew found the injured hiker and her companion.

Cloud cover obscured the hiker’s location, according to the release, but the Navy helicopter was able to rappel two crew members to the ground to prepare the hiker, and at approximately 7 p.m., she was hoisted aboard and transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

“Without the Navy’s assistance, the patient would have had to endure a several hour ride in our wheeled litter, as well as an hour in our ambulance to the hospital,” a Facebook post by Whatcom County Fire District 14 stated. District 14 and the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office also were part of the search and rescue operation.

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island search and rescue crews have conducted 21 total missions through the state this year, including three searches, 10 rescues and eight medical evaluations, the release stated.

Wednesday’s rescue was the second in the past week in Whatcom County, as a skier was airlifted to St. Joseph hospital in Bellingham after injuring a shoulder Friday, May 29, in a fall on Mount Baker’s Coleman Glacier.

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