An Arizona Public Safety Division rescue services helicopter was dispatched to recover hikers earlier this month. The hikers were stranded on a particular portion of Superstition Mountain, a popular recreation destination for residents or visitors to the Phoenix area.
The rescue services helicopter employed the use of a hoist-harness to remove two of the hikers, one of which was reported to be experiencing difficulty, a third was ultimately able to hike out of their own accord. The hikers, who had been stranded overnight, were reported to have been retrieved from the areas of Flat Iron Ridge and Siphon Draw Canyon.
Local authorities indicated a call came in to 911 in the evening the night before stating that an elderly hiker had experienced some exhaustion in conjunction with a medical issue and was in distress. A public safety officer dispatched to the hiker’s location via airlift determined that it would more prudent to attempt the hoist operations during daytime hours. Another hiker, 70 years of age, had experienced some fatigue and resolved to not make an attempt to hike out. Rescue personnel stayed with the hikers until daylight.
According to experts, Phoenix is well known for the number of mountain rescues that are performed there each year. Their emergency services departments were on track to set a record with the number of rescues that were facilitated in a particular calendar year. The reason being is that according to officials, generally, hikers don’t prepare enough for the experience. They don’t take enough water or account for the exhaustion they may encounter.
Emergency services further indicated that they utilize rescue services helicopters because they are more efficient and timely. Sending several paramedics and first responders up a mountain would be a waste of valuable time and resources and could even result in emergency personnel suffering injury.
Every year civil and military agencies, as well as private helicopter facilitators, provide emergency support by hoisting injured persons into helicopters in a number of situations. They are further used across a number of industries, not law enforcement related, like offshore oil and gas providers and in the realm of wind power services.
There are certification programs that train emergency personnel extensively in search, rescue and recovery operations and how to implement the hoist’s capabilities effectively. Additionally, helicopter piloting programs are available for pilots to expound upon their private or commercial licensure to include helicopter ratings and additional flight-type endorsements.