Central Arizona — When hikers and outdoor enthusiasts set out last week to enjoy the renowned Arizona landscapes, the last thing on their mind was what would happen if they were unable to return. But due in part to the services provided by Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) Air Rescue, their adventure did not result in tragedy.
On January 15, 2017, at about 3:05 p.m., AZDPS Air Rescue received a request from the Sedona Fire Department to assist in helping locate an injured hiker. While responding, the helicopter crew was told that the hiker had been found but was immobile due to an ankle injury. When the helicopter arrived in the area the crew found the hiker was off the trail and in steep angle terrain. The highly trained crew determined that the rescue could be made but it would require some technical maneuvering. Returning to the Sedona Fire Command Post, the helicopter picked up a Sedona Fire rescuer, proceeded back to the area, and placed the rescuer down where he could attend to the injured hiker. The Sedona Fire Rescuer and the hiker were short hauled via the helicopter to the command post where the injured hiker received medical treatment.
The next morning, on January 16, at about 6:26 a.m., AZDPS Air Rescue was requested again to assist Pinal County in locating three hikers who had become lost in the Superstition Mountain/Wilderness area. It was reported that the hikers had become lost on the Ridgeline Trail the day before while Ranger was performing the other rescue. They were not reported as lost until later that evening and bad weather further delayed the beginning of the mission until the next morning.
Using GPS coordinates from those reporting the lost hikers, the AZDPS Air Rescue helicopter crew went to the area and began the search. Finding nobody, the helicopter expanded its search area until the crew located the lost hikers in the West Boulder Canyon area. After returning to the command post to re-configure the helicopter for passengers, the crew returned to the area, performed a confined space landing, and had the three hikers board the aircraft. They were then transported to the command center.
AZDPS' Aviation Manager Terence Miyauchi said, “These missions serve as a great example of the variety of public safety services provided through the Department and our partnerships with other first responder agencies across the state. Our troopers that serve on our aircraft are highly trained and well prepared to help the citizens and visitors of our great state.”
*Photos linked below were taken during previous Ranger missions.