South Carolina National Guard Black Hawk Team Rescues Hiker

South Carolina Army National Guard (SCARNG), 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation, UH-60 Black Hawks, helped the South Carolina Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (SCHART) rescue a 60-year old woman who broke her ankle while hiking on the Chattooga River Trail, Chattahoochee National Forest, Dec. 13.

The director of emergency management for Oconee County, Scott Krein, was involved with the request to use the SCARNG and SCHART. “When we received the phone call from the person who hiked out enough to get phone service, we knew that we would need help because of the limited access to the remote area of Ellicott Rock. Not only did we have limited access, but we would have limited time because the upcoming darkness.”

“We have been training with SCHART for about two years. That knowledge helped us to know what they needed and what they could do to help the injured hiker,” said Krein. “We are very happy with the success of the mission. With the help of the National Guard and SCHART, we eliminated a six to eight hour carry-out rescue mission and had the injured hiker on her way to get treatment quickly.”

The South Carolina National Guard Joint Operations Center received the phone call from S.C. Emergency Management Division requesting the mission to rescue the hiker. In less than 30 minutes the Black Hawk and its crew were flying to Anderson Airport to pick up three SCHART members.

Crew chief and hoist operator in the Black Hawk, Staff Sgt. James Kuhnert said, “Everything went real smooth. We were 100 percent prepared because of our years of training with SCHART. We had practiced this scenario many times and were familiar with the location because we use a training site in Oconee County. We hoisted two rescuers down 160 feet to the injured hiker. They helped her, hooker her up to the stretcher and one rescuer was hoisted up with her. Then we sent the hoist down to the other rescuer. The entire mission took about 20 minutes.”

The Black Hawk brought the injured hiker to the awaiting ambulance at Mountain Rest, S.C. She was treated for her broken ankle at Oconee Medical Center.

“This is a prime example of the life saving missions we are able to execute along with our first responders at a moment’s notice,” said the adjutant general of South Carolina, Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston Jr., “I am proud of our soldiers who were able to help one of our South Carolinians in need.”’

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