Within a matter of minutes, a Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk piloted crewed by Lt. Commander Dan Leary pilot, Lieutenant Jason Maddux co-pilot, swimmer ASTC Joel Sayers, and Flight Mechanics AMT2 Josh Holt and Dan Bovard arrived on station and began to set up for hoisting the injured surveyor from the ravine. The Coast Guard Jayhawk came in and lowered their rescue swimmer down to where our crews awaited him, and they began to formulate a plan to get the helicopter down into the very tight area. Crews packaged Mr. Keister and gave him a helmet to wear to protect him during the hoist in the rescue basket and Lt. Commander Leary brought the aircraft in, hovering below the tree tops that surrounded the creek bed. Aircrews and firefighters worked together to hoist the victim into the hovering helicopter, and then it was our turn. Firefighter and Paramedic Rick Ilg was attached to ASTC Sayers and also hoisted into the aircraft to provide critical advanced life support care to Mr. Keister if needed during the flight to St. Vincent's Hospital. In under twenty minutes, the Coast Guard crew delivered Mr. Keister to the helipad at St. Vincents hospital in Beaverton where he was rushed off to be treated for his injuries.
Calls like this are a somewhat rare occurrence for our crews, but ironically this one came nearly a year to the day from a call in 2013 where a Coast Guard helicopter was called to rescue a badly injured logger in the same part of our forest. In the last thirteen years, Forest Grove Fire & Rescue has requested Coast Guard air support for four calls in our area, every time the Coast Guard crew responds with extreme skill and courage in the face of difficult circumstances. On September 16, 2014 we got a chance to share our appreciation for the Coast Guard air crew when we visited their Air Station Astoria along with Mr. Keister and his family. This was a wonderful occasion to gather around and relive the call, talk about the use of the Coast Guard helicopter in our area, and become familiar with their equipment. It was also a tremendous occasion to spend it with the man who was saved through the work of the US Coast Guard, with his family along side of him to celebrate it all. Our firefighters and their families were treated to a tour of the aircraft hangar and firefighting equipment at the air station, and also got to meet in person with the people that they worked with that day in July. We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to the men and women of the United States Coast Guard for not only a job well done on this incident, but for protecting our nation each and every day.
A full photo slideshow of the call and the visit at the air station can be found here.