Tenn. National Guard aircrew rescues stranded hiker in the Smokies

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Spc. Joshua Culotta begins hoist operations and lowers Sgt. 1st Class Giovanni DeZuani to a patient at the Tri Corner Knob Shelter on the Appalachian Trail, May 9. (Courtesy photo from the Tennessee National Guard)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee National Guard came to the aid of a stranded hiker via helicopter over the weekend in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The unidentified hiker, who was rescued from the Appalachian Trail near the Tricorner Knob shelter, had suffered from difficulty breathing while hiking on Sunday, May 9.

The Tennessee Dept. of Military stated in a release that shortly before 7 a.m. on Sunday, the Tennessee Military Department and Tennessee Emergency Management Agency were notified of a hiker in distress near the Tricorner Knob Shelter along the Appalachian Trail.

The hiker required immediate medical care and unable to be transported by ground, the Tennessee National Guard was alerted for a helicopter rescue.

A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter from Detachment 1, Company C, 1-171st Aviation Regiment based in Knoxville assembled in under an hour and launched to the incident site, arriving at the Tricorner Knob Shelter at approximately 9 a.m.

Once the rescue aircraft arrived on the scene, the flight crew began hoist operations. With the aircraft unable to land due to terrain, the crew was lowered to the patient via rescue hoist where he performed a quick medical assessment, initial first aid, and ensured that the patient was stable enough for hoisting. Then, the patient and crew were lifted safely into the helicopter, which departed for the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

The Tennessee National Guard stated the entire hoisting operation took 12 minutes to complete.

While onboard, the aircrew continued medical aid to the patient during the 20-minute flight to the hospital.

The flight crew consisted of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Backus, Pilot in Command, Capt. Philip Draper, Pilot, Staff Sgt. Joseph Hough, Crew Chief, Spc. Joshua Culotta, Crew Chief, and Sgt. 1st Class Giovanni DeZuani, Flight Paramedic.

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