Submitted by U.S. Coast Guard 13th District Public Affairs Office
A Coast Guard aircrew hoisted a hiker after she suffered head and back injuries from a fall off a cliff on Obstruction Island on Wednesday, July 4.
An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles transferred the hiker at Bellingham International Airport to emergency medical service personnel, who took her to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center for further care.
Around 10:30 p.m. watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound received the hoist request from members of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office.
“Paramedics on the scene had administered CPR for approximately 20 minutes before gaining the slightest pulse,” said Lt. Jacob Marks, one of the two helicopter pilots involved in the response. “The helicopter arrived on scene and assessed the challenges of the confined cove, surrounded by 50 to 100 foot-tall trees and a steep sloping terrain.”
Marks and the other pilot relied on night vision goggles to maintain a separation between the helicopter and the terrain. The rescue swimmer was lowered and traversed the cliffs to meet the ground party who were helping the patient breathe using a bag-valve mask.
To maintain her breathing, the hiker and rescue swimmer were hoisted simultaneously.
“Remarkably the crew was able to execute this hoist in extremely challenging conditions while maintaining critical life support to the survivor,” said Marks.
A paramedic was also hoisted, so that they could continue to provide care from aboard the helicopter, and was transferred along with the hiker at the airport.
The hiker’s residence and condition after transfer are unknown.
View footage of the rescue below.