Tennessee National Guard Rescues Hiker in Smoky Mountains

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Sgt. 1st Class Cassandra Antes, a paramedic assigned to Task Force Smokey, prepares to be hoisted down to rescue a hiker in need of medical assistance, May 20, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (courtesy photo)

A hiker, suffering from a severe illness in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, was recently rescued with the aid of the Tennessee National Guard.

It happened on the evening of May 20th. Around 7:00pm Eastern Time, the Tennessee National Guard and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency were notified of a hiker, located in a remote part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, needed immediate medical assistance. TEMA approved the mission just after 7:15 p.m., and less than an hour later, a flight crew from the Tennessee National Guard’s Task Force Smokey took off from McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Base to rescue the hiker.

The UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter arrived on scene about 20 minutes later and quickly performed a hoist rescue to carefully lift the hiker into the aircraft. The hiker was located more than 5,000 feet above sea level, at Icewater Spring.

The hiker was transported to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville,
shortly after 9:00 p.m. The entire operation, from first notification of a potential mission to
patient handoff at the hospital, took about two hours.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Peter Neveu and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Andres Salas were the pilots for the mission. Sgt 1st Class Cassandra Antes was the paramedic, and Staff Sgt. Daniel Bandy, along with Staff Sgt. Ernest Harlan, were the crew chiefs.

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