Coast Guard hoists injured hiker from Obstruction Island

A Coast Guard aircrew hoisted an hiker after she suffered head and back injuries from a fall off a cliff on Obstruction Island, Wednesday.

A still from a video shows an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles hoists an injured female hiker and their rescue swimmer from Obstruction Island, Wash., July 4, 2018. Both were hoisted at the same time so that the rescue swimmer could operate a bag-valve mask and to maintain the hiker’s breathing.  CLICK for VIDEO  U.S. Coast Guard video courtesy of Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles.

“Paramedics on the scene had administered CPR for approximately 20 minutes before gaining the slightest pulse,” said Lt. Jacob Marks, one of the two helicopter pilots involved in the response. “The helicopter arrived on scene and assessed the challenges of the confined cove, surrounded by 50 to 100 foot-tall trees and a steep sloping terrain.”

Marks and the other pilot relied on night vision goggles to maintain a separation between the helicopter and the terrain. The rescue swimmer was lowered and traversed the cliffs to meet the ground party who were helping the patient breathe using a bag-valve mask.

In order to maintain her breathing, the hiker and rescue swimmer were hoisted simultaneously.

“Remarkably the crew was able to execute this hoist in extremely challenging conditions while maintaining critical life support to the survivor,” said Marks.

A paramedic was also hoisted, so that they could continue to provide care from aboard the helicopter, and was transferred along with the hiker at the airport.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles transferred the hiker at Bellingham International Airport to emergency medical service personnel, who took her to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center for further care.

Around 10:30 p.m. watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound received the hoist request from members of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office.

The hiker's residence and condition after transfer unknown.

Obstruction Island is located between Orcas and Blakely Islands in the San Juan Islands. 


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