Written by Glenn Henderson
The team received a call from dispatch at 6:30 for a Pacific Crest Trail through hiker that had fallen on ice on the trail to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto. She had twisted her knee and could not put any weight on it. She was in the stone hut with five other hikers on the top of San Jacinto. Star 9, (Sheriff’s aviation unit) called for two members to respond to Hemet Ryan airbase to affect a hoist rescue of the 45-year-old injured woman. Eric and I responded and met up with pilot Chad Marlett and TFO (technical flight officer) Ray Heirs at the airbase.
We loaded up and took off for the summit. The winds were supposed to be 12 MPH or less. As we neared the summit at 10,800 ft. we started to be pushed around. I thought this to be a bad sign and it was. As soon as we got ready to lower Eric first on the hook the winds pushed us around making it impossible to safely continue. Since she had people with her plus food, water, sleeping bag and pad, and it was not a critical injury we decided to return in the morning when the winds would die down. We were able to contact her and tell her what was going on. Chad and Ray were on duty until 1 AM and were to return 8 hours later at 9 AM.
We all met up at 9 AM and started up to the hut. We flew straight to the hut and there was no wind but at 10,800 ft. we would need to burn off some fuel to be able to hover steady enough to lower Eric and myself. We flew around and burned off 10 gallons of fuel before Chad was able to steady the helicopter enough for Ray to lower Eric and then myself to the ground.
TFO operating Hosit for Eric to Lower
Looking down at Hut
We met our subject, Konstanz, who was from Austria. We explained that we were going to put her into a “screamer” suit and she would be lifted to the helicopter. She would not get completely into the helicopter but sit with Ray in the open door attached by the hook. This was to try make it easier for her to not try and crawl into a seat. We hooked her up and Ray lifted her to the door and flew her to the lower Palm Springs Tramway parking lot where she was met by an American Medical Response ambulance and transported to the hospital. Chad and Ray flew back and picked us up and we returned to the airbase without incident.
Subject in Screamer Suit going Up
Ps. Konstanz contacted me to thank all of us for our service and that nothing was broken but she would be a while recovering. Great news!
RMRU Members Involved: Glenn Henderson and Eric Holden.