Milestone Aerial Rescue
A crew from the 40th
Helicopter Flight, based at Malmstrom AFB (MT), rescued an injured
horseback rider who was thrown and dragged by his horse Aug. 11 in
the mountains south of Livingston (MT). This was the 350th save by
the airmen of the 40th HF.
The rescue of Gary Ellis took place Aug. 12 along the shore of
an alpine lake at an elevation of 9,300 feet -- an altitude that
tested the performance of the UH-1N Huey helicopter.
With no other rescue aircraft available and the ground search
and rescue party about 20 miles from Ellis, Rescue Coordination
Center officials at Langley Air Force Base (VA), asked the 40th HF
Despite the high altitude and summer heat challenging the
aircraft’s capability, the crew arrived without incident at
Ellis’ location about four hours later.
When the helicopter landed, 40th HF airmen hiked a quarter mile
to reach Ellis, while co-pilot Capt. Rich Kattau prepared the
aircraft for evacuation. When the airmen reached the man, he was in
pain, hungry and dehydrated.
“One of the things that made this save different …
was that we couldn’t see the patient from the air,”
said Capt. Ki Lee, a flight surgeon. “We were prepared for
The save was the flight’s second in four days. A crew from
the 40th HF rescued a smokejumper Aug. 9 who was injured at a jump
zone near Helena (MT).
After assessing Ellis, Lee found that the patient suffered from
a broken collarbone, severe knee injury and multiple cuts and
“Saves are very
challenging,” said Capt. Sean Roehrs, the aircraft commander.
“You have to know where you are, think ahead to where you are
going, keep an eye on the fuel and the patient’s condition.
It’s challenging to juggle all these things.”
Once the man was put on a stretcher and loaded into the
helicopter, he was flown to Deaconess Hospital in Bozeman (MT).
Special thanks to Staff Sgt. Andeelynn Owens, 341st Space
Wing Public Affairs, USAF