Tennessee Guardsmen Rescue Hiker in Great Smoky Mountains

Tennessee Guardsmen conducted a successful rescue of a hiker in medical distress.

LOUISVILLE, Tenn. – On the evening of Wednesday, June 12, a flight crew from the Tennessee Army National Guard, based at Joint Base McGhee-Tyson, rescued a hiker experiencing a medical emergency in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Shortly after 7 p.m. Eastern Time, the Tennessee National Guard and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) were informed of a hiker suffering from cardiac distress requiring urgent transport to a nearby hospital. The hiker was located in a remote area at the Double Spring Gap Shelter, south of Gatlinburg, near the North Carolina border.

Once TEMA was notified of the situation, the Tennessee National Guardsmen assigned to Task Force Smokey assembled a flight crew, readied a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter for flight, and prepared to rescue the hiker. Ten minutes after the mission was approved, the aircraft departed Joint Base McGhee-Tyson and headed directly to the Double Spring Gap Shelter.

The Tennessee Army National Guard flight crew included two pilots, 1st Lt. Gavin Huffman and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert Koons, the crew chief, Sgt. Daniel Bandy, and two flight paramedics, Sgt. 1st Class Giovanni DeZuani and Staff Sgt. Sarah Hanna.

Twenty minutes after takeoff, the aircraft arrived at the shelter and located the hiker along with park rangers from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, who were administering first aid.

Shortly before 8:30 p.m., the aircraft crew chief, Daniel Bandy, lowered Giovanni DeZuani, the flight paramedic, to the ground by hoist to perform a quick medical assessment and prepare the hiker for transport. After a few minutes of providing aid, the hiker and DeZuani were then hoisted into the Blackhawk helicopter hovering above, where first aid continued. Once everyone was safely on board, the aircraft flew to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

At approximately 8:50 p.m., the aircraft landed at the medical center, where medical personnel quickly transported the patient to the emergency room. After ensuring the patient was safely in the care of medical professionals, the aircraft returned to Louisville, landing just before 9:30 p.m.

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