This post was originally published on 4/14/12 but because of a gigantic Go Daddy foul up the pictures were lost when they shut down their Quik Blogcast platform. I have found them, reinserted them, and restored the entry. I am posting it again for review.
Since I don’t have much new to talk about I am working on fixing all the effected posts so you will see this process repeat itself many times. Sorry.
I have not done much rescue related material on this site yet but I thought you all might enjoy this video. It is one of the last missions I did before retiring altogether from rescue work. I had my fun, 14 years was enough.
I was actually off duty when I was special called to meet Fox 1, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Bell 407, at the Scottsdale Municipal Airport. I got the page about 4:30pm. This was not all that uncommon. Not only was I the Division’s Rescue Training Coordinator, I was also it’s only SAR Tech-EMT. Normally in these off duty situations I would get dressed and drive to wherever I was meeting the bird. This time was a little different because my wife and kids wanted to drive me to the airport to save me some time and see me off. Big mistake.
There are three stop lights between my house and the airport and my wife, the finest most law abiding person I know, blew through two bright red ones like we were going to a fire. The kids were yelling, my radio was blaring, and I was trying to get my gear on all while my soccer mom wife was doing her best Danica Patrick impression in a Chevy Suburban. Fortunately, we made it there in one piece. A little frazzled, I was happy to climb inside the helicopter…where it was safe.
The crew had already been to the call which was in the Canyon Lake area but went back to the hangar for the short haul gear and to pick me up. The Apache Junction Fire Department engine company on scene was not helo qualified and we had not trained with them so a decision was made to do the short haul aka long line aka sling load operation with just our people. Two of AJ’s bravest had already hiked in to reach, treat and stabilize the patient, a woman who had gotten lost while rock hunting. As you will see in the video, she was in a very bad place. I have no idea how that woman ended up where she did. It was late summer, hot, and there was a monsoon rolling in from the North. She was not doing well at all. In fact, the firefighters were unable to start an IV because she was so dehydrated and that’s not good.
My job was to rig the ship, ride the line into the scene, package the patient in a Bauman Bag and then “fly the load” back out to the landing zone where we would transfer the patient to a waiting ambulance. The ambulance would deliver the patient to an air ambulance that was waiting at another landing zone down the road.
This is the Bauman Bag with me hanging, from the hoist in our hanger, in the attendant position. It was our policy to attend all live loads. From this position, while hanging 50 to 125 feet below the helicopter, I could talk to the patient, monitor and manage their airway and “fly the load” with my arms to keep the whole package from spinning. The system works very well but it is high risk.
The duty crew on this mission was Pilot and CFI Josh Johnson and Flight Technician Observer Kevin Kraayenbrink. Two of the nicest guys on the planet. If you look closely on the video, you can see Kevin’s bare legs sticking out the side of the passenger compartment. He is laying sideways and face down on the aft bench seat so he can see what I am doing and make rude hand gestures. For some reason both he and Josh were wearing shorts instead of their Superman suits. Task assignments are as follows: Josh flys. Kevin watches, talks to me on the radio, Josh on the intercom and directs the whole thing. I make sure that one end of the load line is securely attached to the helicopter and the other to my harness and the patient then try to make it through the ride without soiling my skivvies.
The picture on the left is me looking around for somebody dumber than me that could be talked into doing this. On the right, I am trying to decide between mexican and chinese food afterwords. Airborne SAR Techs travel pretty light (especially when you are as heavy as I am and work out of a light single engine helo that typically flies in high temps/low humidity conditions). That Tactical Tailor Utility Vest allowed me to carry two radios (VHF Motorola HT1000 to talk to our dispatchers and the ship and a UHF version to patch with my base hospital via the EMSCOM radio system), a sat phone (because I was often so far back in the boonies I couldn’t get anybody on either radio), 100oz of water, basic survival, and Emergency Medical Services gear. The standard 27P NOMEX military flight suit has all kinds of pockets and I used all of them (pick off strap, let down rope, cut away knife, C-collar, hand saw, notebook, SAM Splint, 12 feet of 1 inch tubular webbing, carabiners, handcuffs, etc). All told, in this configuration, I am carrying an addition 43 pounds of equipment. Note the attachment point for the Petzl 8003 Harness under my flight suit. Such a kind face.
As the “load” or “dope on the rope” for a whole bunch of these operations I can tell you that there are crews that are good at long line work and crews that are not. These guys are very, very good. Watch how smoothly they move me around, how gently they set me down, and how quickly they address then correct a pendulum swing before it becomes a problem while the rotor is 10 feet from the rock face. That is finesse. That is talent.
Long story short. We got the patient. She went to the hospital and lived. Then we all went back to whatever it was that we were doing.
Another successful mission. Ha! We cheated death again. That is Fox 1, ace Pilot Josh Johnson, and me on the pad at (what was known then as station 700) our base of operations at the Central Arizona Project facility just North of Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix. Kevin Kraayenbrink is behind the camera. I miss working with those guys. I don’t miss smelling like jet fuel exhaust all the time.
The folks at TV3 were nice enough to give me the raw video and then we had it converted. It’s a good video but the web process degrades the quality quite a bit and speeds it up. Trust me, we weren’t flying that fast and Josh is a much smoother pilot than it seems on the web version of the video. Click here for the YouTube video.
UPDATE – One of the items on my to do list was to convert this video footage again and upload it to my YouTube channel. Today I finally got it done. Not my best work, I see a couple of mistakes but it is still interesting to watch and marvel at just how good the guys in the bird are. Foxrider out.
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