The soldiers of Yakima Dustoff are no strangers to challenging rescues, and Wednesday was no different.
Stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, under the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade’s 2-158 Assault Helicopter Battalion, the U.S. Army Air Ambulance Detachment-Yakima has consistently rated as one of the service’s top evacuation units. The Dustoff Association, a military aeromedical evacuation trade group, recognized the detachment for having 2022′s best rescue, best pilot, best crew chief and best flight medic.
So, when the Washington State Emergency Operations Center called for assistance with an injured hiker stranded near the “Lunch Counter” formation on the Mount Adams volcano, the flight crew knew what to do despite being unable to land on the 30-degree slope. As twilight faded after 9 p.m., flight medic Sgt. 1st Class Adrian Trujillo was hoisted down onto the slope, where he stabilized the injured woman.
Trujillo, the 2022 flight medic of the year, said the hiker “had a severe leg injury,” according to an Army release. He quickly stabilized the woman before hoisting her into the helicopter, which then transported her to a local hospital. The entire mission, from call to completion, took less than three hours, the detachment commander said.
Wednesday’s rescue was the unit’s second civilian rescue of 2023′s summer rescue season, according to brigade public affairs officer Capt. Kyle Abraham. Although the four-helicopter detachment is on-call 24/7 for both training accidents at Yakima and civilian emergency missions, the summer months are by far the busiest.
Last year, Abraham added, Yakima Dustoff rescued 17 civilians across 12 missions, in addition to completing nine medical evacuations from the training center.
That included three “life-saving” rescue missions during a four-day span in July 2022.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army. He focuses on investigations, personnel concerns and military justice. Davis, also a Guard veteran, was a finalist in the 2023 Livingston Awards for his work with The Texas Tribune investigating the National Guard’s border missions. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill.
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