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Montana National Guard aircrew rescues hikers at 9,300 feet

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This article by Capt. Dan Bushnell was originally published on U.S. Army.

CONDON, Mont. – A Montana Army National Guard medevac team in an HH-60 Black Hawk helicopter rescued two hikers from the Holland Peak area Oct. 5 after one of the hikers developed a life-threatening medical condition.

The Montana Army National Guard Joint Operations Center received an official request for assistance at approximately 2 p.m. and began preparing the crew for the mission. Montana National Guard Aircraft #608 and four crew members left the Army Aviation Support Facility at 3:30 p.m. and arrived at the approximate location of the hikers at 4 p.m. Ryan Dunster, Missoula County deputy sheriff, was put on-board the aircraft to help locate the hikers.

The rescue was conducted in turbulent winds at an elevation of 9,300 feet, according to Capt. Tom Meredith, the pilot in command of the mission. The hikers were hoisted, with assistance from a crew member on the ground, approximately 100 feet to the aircraft by 5:20 p.m. and transported to Condon Airfield. They were then transported by ambulance to the Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

“Over the last 12 months, we have done extensive training for scenarios just like this,” said Meredith. “We were able to bring it all together for the mission on Monday in a dynamic environment, at a high altitude and turbulent winds.

“Search and rescue missions are much like the medevac missions we perform overseas,” he said. “Participating in state missions is a very meaningful and rewarding part of our job, especially when we are able to aid in a successful rescue, save a life, and return individuals home to their families.”

The helicopter and medevac crew are assigned to Detachment 1, Charlie Company, 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion. The crew members are a fully trained medical evacuation team, with hoist, infrared and night vision capabilities on the aircraft.

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