Arizona DPS now able to make faster technical rescues at night

Dec 15, 2018, 4:15 AM | Updated: 12:12 pm

PHOENIX — Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue units are now able to make faster and easier rescues at night, the agency announced Thursday.

DPS has made nighttime rescues before, but crews were unable to hoist people up to helicopters, meaning they sometimes had to land in confined spaces and take more time to complete rescues.

New equipment and training led to the agency successfully completing its first external load nighttime technical rescue last month.

On Nov. 10 at 5:30 p.m., a 52-year-old climber on Thunder Mountain, north of Sedona, needed assistance.

He had been rock climbing without ropes or a harness and came to a place where he couldn’t continue climbing or get down.

The temperature was expected to drop below freezing that night, which made his situation even more dangerous.

DPS responded with its new helicopter, Ranger 1, and crews used an external hoist to send a trooper to a ledge near the climber.

Although it was after sunset, light from the helicopter allowed the trooper to locate the man and wrap him in a transport suit.

Both the trooper and climber were then pulled up into the helicopter without injury.

“This type of rescue is challenging even in the best of circumstances,” Colonel Frank Milstead, DPS director, said in a press release.

“Our new equipment and training that enabled this rescue to occur at night really paid off. The victim was unprepared for a very cold night and our crew recognized he needed to be extracted from the mountain before temperatures dropped.”

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Arizona DPS now able to make faster technical rescues at night