Tennessee National Guard Rescues Hiker Experiencing Health Crisis

by Amy Myers

On Thursday, the Tennessee National Guard had to conduct an emergency air evacuation for a hiker that was suffering a severe illness.

Early yesterday morning, just after 7:00 a.m., the Tennessee Military Department and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency received a call regarding a downed hiker. The unnamed patient was hiking on the Appalachian Trail Double Spring Gap Shelter in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The hiker became unable to walk or stand because of a severe illness. Once the Tennessee National Guard received notice, they quickly conducted an emergency rescue mission within 30 minutes. According to the official release, the Tennessee National Guard used a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter for the mission. The flight crew consisted of two pilots, a crew chief and two flight paramedics.

Roughly two hours after the initial distress call, the flight crew found the patient near Double Spring Gap Shelter. The shelter is located near Jacobs Knob and Little Huggins Creek. Once there, the crew chief lowered one of the flight paramedics to the ground where he recovered the patient. The crew chief hoisted both individuals into the aircraft. The crew then continued to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. They arrived at the facility at approximately 9:22 a.m.

In all, the Tennessee National Guard personnel completed the rescue mission in less than an hour and a half.

It is unclear which illness the patient was suffering or whether the patient is still receiving treatment at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Recent Rescue is the Second That Tennessee National Guard Conducted in 2022

Earlier this year, the Tennessee National Guard had to conduct a similar rescue mission for a hiker. On January 18 at around 9:30 a.m., a flight crew had to conduct another emergency air evacuation. Along the Appalachian Trail, there was unnamed patient that was suffering from hypothermia.

This time, the Tennessee National Guard received notice of a downed hiker near Gregory Bald in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. According to the report, “The hiker was suffering from hypothermic conditions after becoming disoriented and getting lost due to heavy snowfall. Once alerted, the Tennessee National Guard began preparing for an emergency rescue mission.”

Officials deployed the same helicopter to extract the victim. Shortly after 10:30 a.m., the flight crew managed to locate the patient in a “snowy ravine.”

Once the crew brought the patient on board the aircraft, they began conducting a medical examination as they were in route to the University of Tennessee. They transferred the patient to medical personnel at the facility just twenty minutes later, once again completing the rescue mission in under an hour and a half.

The official release included several photos of the rescue as the flight crew extracted the patient. In the pictures, you can see a few snow-covered treetops and the crew chief hoisting up the paramedic and victim.