Fire crews rescue kayakers in distress off the Kohala Coast
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Image Caption: Hawaii County Fire Department's Chopper One lowers the mother in a Billy Pugh rescue net to paramedics at Lapakahi State Park Sunday (Feb 14). Photography by Rusty Orr | Special to Hawaii 24/7.
Fire/rescue crews responded to an alarm just before 3 p.m. for kayakers in trouble 1/2 mile off-shore Mahukona State Park Sunday (Feb 14).
A 57 year-old woman and 13 year-old daughter were kayaking in an inflatable kayak and got caught by an off-shore wind that prevented them from paddling back to shore. A bystander with a kayak attempted a rescue by towing the pair in but was unsuccessful.
County fire helicopters spotted the pair and dropped a rescue swimmer into the water along with lowering a Billy Pugh rescue net. First the girl then the mother were airlifted to Lapakahi State Park to a paramedic unit. Both kayakers were fatigued but alright and were transported back to Mahukona State Park. The report noted the kayaker’s unfamiliarity with windy conditions at Mahukona cause the problem.
US Park Police Helicopter Rescues two men at Occoquan Reservoir Dam
Sunday May 31, 2009
Two men fishing in the Occoquan River came into grief on Sunday afternoon when their boat's motor developed mechanical problems and began drifting towards a dam. The men managed to bail out and grab hold of a fortuitously positioned pole in the water just as their boat was swept over the edge and plummeted 75 feet to the bottom of the dam.
Prince William and Fairfax County Firefighters were called to the scene along with the Fairfax County Police and U.S. Park Police Helicopter Units. Rescue boats could not get close enough to the fishermen without running the risk of being washed over the dam themselves, so the helicopter crews devised a plan to lift them out.
First, the Fairfax County Police helicopter moved into position and Officers Tim Schilling and Jon Kaminski lowered life-jackets and helmets on a rope. Then, the plan called for the US Park Police helicopter to move in and lift the men out with their Billy Pugh rescue net, but one of the fishermen had a plan of his own. He let go of the pole and grabbed hold of the rope that the Fairfax County Police chopper had used to lower the safety equipment. Pilot Chuck Angle and the Fairfax County crew had to think quickly and elected to drag their unexpected passenger upstream towards the rescue boats.
After a few harrowing moments, they reached one of the Fire Department's rescue boats and Fairfax County's catch-of-the-day was safely pulled onto it.
By this time, the Park Police helicopter, flown by Sergeant Ken Burchell and Sergeant Kevin Chittick, had hovered into position over the second fisherman and Sergeant Mark Varanelli and Officer David Hurley lowered the Billy Pugh rescue net to him. The fisherman climbed onto it and was flown to safety without incident.
Both aircrews attested to the extreme difficulty of the rescue, due in large part to the precarious position of the fishermen; any imprecise or miscalculated movement while hovering could have resulted in either man slipping or being pulled over the falls. The safe and successful outcome of this incident is a testament to the training, poise, and professionalism of all the rescue crews involved.
Pictures and video provided by OWL VFD, Dale City VFD, and Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue.
For further information, pictures and video, contact:
Assistant Chief OWL VFD
Navy SAR Crew Save Outdoorsmen In Two Incidents in California
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL –SEPTEMBER 4, 2008 – Faced with life threatening situations in remote areas of California’s backcountry this summer, two unrelated groups of outdoors enthusiasts activated their Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) and waited for help. Little did they know it would be the U.S. Navy that would come to their rescue.SAR Helo
Twice within two months, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC), which coordinates PLB-assisted rescues on land in the U.S., notified the Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake to carry out rescue missions.
The first situation occurred on May 22 when an ice climber fell and broke his leg at 11,000 feet near Mt. Gilbert in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. There was no way for the injured climber to hike out so his partner switched on his ACR Electronics ResQFix™ 406 GPS PLB to summon help.
When the Navy rescuers were notified of the distress alert, they were already preparing for an exercise. They quickly transitioned to the actual, real-life Search and Rescue (SAR) mission. The crew used high altitude army training skills to hoist both climbers from their snowy encampment. They were flown to a nearby airport where ambulance and sheriff personnel were waiting.
In a subsequent interview online in “The Gear Junkie, Bill Becher, the climber who owned and activated the ResQFix™, said the Navy SAR team and the sheriff thanked him for having a PLB and said they wished others would carry one. “The SAR sheriff said they’d just had a training session on the PLB and this was the first experience with actually using it. He was impressed with how well it worked. If they hadn’t been able to get the chopper in, it would have taken a 12-man team with a wheeled litter to get my injured partner out, said Becher.
The second PLB rescue on July 3 involved two horseback riders on a nine-day trip in Kings Canyon National Park. One rider began to suffer respiratory distress and needed medical attention. They activated an ACR Electronics ResQFix™ 406 GPS PLB and, once again, the NAS China Lake SAR team was called in to execute another successful rescue.
Lt. Commander Kenneth Gilbert, who leads the NAWS China Lake SAR team, said their primary mission is to assist military aviators. However, if their resources are available, they will respond to civilian missions too. At 1.1 million acres, NAWS China Lake is the country’s largest naval station. Located in California’s Mojave Desert, it sits between the highest, Mt. Whitney, and the lowest points, Death Valley, in the continental U.S.
Lt. Commander Gilbert said PLBs greatly assist his SAR team, particularly in the case of the two ice climbers who were immobilized in rough terrain and snowy conditions. “Without the rescue beacon, it would have tripled our search time. The GPS and direction finder kept our search to within a quarter mile area, he said. “Personally, I wouldn’t go hiking or go out on my own without a PLB. If you got hurt, you could go for days without being found.
A PLB is a satellite-signaling device of last resort, for use when all other means of self-rescue have been exhausted and where the situation is deemed to be grave and imminent, and the loss of life, limb, eyesight or valuable property will occur without assistance. All beacons must be registered following purchase. Simply go online to www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov . There are no monthly service fees.