NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – A Search and Rescue (SAR) team from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island rescued an injured climber in the Olympic National Park on Wednesday October 11, 2017.
The October 11 rescue was the third attempt to locate this particular hiker. Two earlier attempts on Tuesday were hampered by inclement weather. After sunrise Wednesday morning, they finally located the injured man at the attitude of 6,000 feet on Mount Olympus. Once they located the hiker, they brought him aboard and flew him to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Lt. Evan Jester, co-pilot on the first mission, said conditions made the earlier attempts challenging. “The weather and low clouds made this one of the toughest missions I’ve ever flown,” he said.
Olympic Mountain Rescue, a volunteer organization dedicated to saving lives through rescue and mountain safety education, and the National Park Service also assisted with the rescue efforts.
This was the 34th rescue of 2017 for NAS Whidbey Island SAR, which has also conducted 7 searches and 14 Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions this year, totaling 62 lives delivered to a higher level of care.
The Navy SAR unit operates three MH-60S helicopters from NAS Whidbey Island as search and rescue/medical evacuation (SAR/MEDEVAC) platforms for the EA-18G aircraft as well as other squadrons and personnel assigned to the installation. Pursuant to the National SAR Plan of the United States, the unit may also be used for civil SAR/MEDEVAC needs to the fullest extent practicable on a non-interference basis with primary military duties according to applicable national directives, plans, guidelines and agreements; specifically, the unit may launch in response to tasking by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (based on a Washington State Memorandum of Understanding) for inland missions, and/or tasking by the United States Coast Guard for all other aeronautical and maritime regions, when other assets are unavailable.