Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Military helicopter rescues Mount Borah hiker

Black Hawk makes 3 rescue attempts in 8 days

Express Staff Writer

Idaho Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopters are used in civilian rescue operations. This rescue took place last winter at Bogus Basin near Boise.

On Sunday, an injured Boy Scout troop leader was rescued from Mount Borah by a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter. It was the third rescue attempt made by such a helicopter in eight days in southern Idaho.

With an elevation of 12,662 feet, Mount Borah is the highest mountain in Idaho. It is in the central section of the Lost River Range, within the Challis National Forest in eastern Custer County. Two dramatic rescues have been made on the peak this summer. Only one of the rescues was aided by military air support.

Hikers on Mount Borah are advised by Lost River District Ranger Diane Weaver to stay on the trail.

"These efforts are expensive, difficult and put many people at risk," she wrote in a news release Tuesday.

According to a joint press release issued by the Custer County's Sheriff's Office and the Idaho National Guard on Monday, a Custer County 911 dispatcher received a call stating that a hiker had fallen on Mount Borah, but was OK. At 1:45 p.m. a second call came in saying "we need help."

The victim's Boy Scout troop and the rescue team that arrived on foot helped him through Saturday night. On Sunday morning, the Custer County Sheriff's Office requested and received approval from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida for an Idaho Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter to recover the victim from the 9,500 foot-level of Mt. Borah, where he had been relocated.

"The helicopter and crew happened to be at an air show in McCall on Sunday morning," said Idaho National Guard spokesman Col. Tim Marsano. "They fortunately had all of the equipment they needed with them. They high-tailed it over to the Mackay area incident command post in 45 minutes, dropped off the equipment they didn't need, including one person, burned off extra fuel to reduce weight and undertook the rescue."

The helicopter crew members hovered above the victim and used the Black Hawk's hoist to lift the victim about 100 feet into the helicopter before returning to the incident command post at the base of the mountain. The victim was checked out by the Mackay Emergency Medical Services and then transported to Boise for medical treatment.

Marsano said federal permission is required to use the Black Hawk and that the federal government will pay for the rescue.

"This is one advantage of having a National Guard headquarters in our area," Marsano said. "There is a Black Hawk crew on standby at all times at Gowen Field in Boise."

This was the third rescue attempt made in eight days by the Idaho Army National Guard's Company A, 1-168 General Support Aviation Battalion.

The other two included a search for missing boaters in American Falls Reservoir and the recovery of an injured wildland firefighter near Fairfield.

Tony Evans:

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