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Friday night, at about 9:45 p.m., NAS Whidbey Island SAR received a mission to rescue a 24-year-old woman who was reported to have fallen off a cliff near Nooksack Falls in Whatcom County north of Mount Baker. The crew launched from Ault Field at approximately 10:10 p.m. and began searching for the patient as soon as they arrived at the Falls.
After an extensive search, the patient was found about 100 yards downstream from the Falls, on a shoulder of the river under a tree. The SAR crew recovered the patient, who was hypothermic and had fall injuries, via hoist and transported her to St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Bellingham by 11:25 p.m.
Late Saturday evening a SAR crew was notified of a 27-year-old male who was suffering from heat injuries near Lena Lake on the Olympic Peninsula. At about half past midnight on Sunday morning the SAR crew launched and coordinated with the on-scene ground SAR team from Jefferson Search and Rescue, who had marked the location of the patient with white lights.
The patient was quickly recovered via a litter hoist and transported him to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where they landed at about 1:40 a.m. Sunday morning.
NAS Whidbey Island SAR routinely trains with local, county, and federal search and rescue units throughout the Pacific Northwest. Ground search and rescue units are often critical to the efficient and safe helicopter recovery of patients.
NAS Whidbey Island SAR has conducted 21 missions this calendar year, which includes eight MEDEVACs, 11 rescues, and two searches.
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.
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