On Saturday, August 29, 2020, the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) Ranger 1 helicopter was requested to assist the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) with a search and rescue mission for an injured hiker. The hiker suffered a serious leg injury and required extraction from the top of Humphreys Peak, the highest summit in Arizona at 12,637 feet.
Throughout the rescue mission, our Ranger 1 crew faced challenges including strong, gusty winds and stormy weather, further complicated by the high altitude. Based on conditions during the rescue, the density altitude (DA) was calculated at over 14,000 feet.
After a few unsuccessful attempts to reach the hiker, Ranger 1 landed nearby to refuel and allow a storm to pass. When they returned to the summit, the crew as able to safely insert a trooper/paramedic via hoist. The injured hiker was then secured in a harness – also known as a “screamer suit” – and both the hiker and the trooper/paramedic were hoisted off the mountain and loaded into the helicopter. The injured hiker was flown to Flagstaff Medical Center and turned over for further treatment.
“This rescue represents the highest altitude hoist our Ranger 1 crew has ever performed,” said Lt. Colonel Daniel Lugo, Assistant Director of the Agency Support Division. “It is a testament to the incredible skill and dedication our state troopers show while serving Arizonans every day.”
The previous record for a high-altitude rescue was set in August of 2018 in the Chiricahua Mountains. That press release is available at www.azdps.gov/news/releases/874.
Video by Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue.