NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – A Search and Rescue (SAR) team from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island were called twice on Wednesday, August 13, for two different emergencies, one in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and the other at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island
Early Wednesday morning, the MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter crew of five received its first call to rescue a 58-year-old man who suffered a possible lower leg/ankle fracture at Lake Waptus near Mount Daniel in Kittitas County. The accident occurred at noon the day before in which a friend had hiked out of the area to notify the local Sheriff’s Office. The man was stuck overnight at the location with two 15-year-olds, including his nephew.
“We hoisted all three in a basket,” said Naval Aircrewman Helicopter 2nd Class Daniel Ismay, the SAR 2nd Crewman. The three rescued were flown to Bowers Field in Ellensburg, Wash.
Within 15 minutes of returning to NAS Whidbey Island, the same aircrew was back in the air at 3 p.m. to airlift a man from San Juan Airport at Friday Harbor to Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, after he had fallen 7 feet on his head during an on-the-job injury.
“The patient had been waiting since noon for transfer to Harborview,” Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Alex Nguyen, the SAR Medical Technician. “Thanks to the San Juan Paramedic’s, the patient transfer went expeditiously and smoothly even with the bad weather.”
NAS Whidbey Island SAR has now launched on 14 search and rescue missions and four medical evacuations this year, resulting in 33 lives saved.
The Navy SAR unit is specifically based here for search and rescue missions for the EA-6B and EA-18G aircraft as well as other squadrons and personnel assigned to the installation. The base also has an agreement to assist Washington State with medical evacuations and search and rescue activities.