SONOMA COUNTY (CBS SF) — A National Guardsman injured fighting the LNU Lightning Complex in Sonoma County is recovering after a risky helicopter rescue that plucked him from the challenging terrain covered by trees and fallen logs.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s office said its rescue helicopter was dispatched to a remote area on the western portion of the fire west of Healdsburg at about 3 p.m. Wednesday. An area off of Stewarts Point / Skaggs Springs Rd was where the guardsman slipped and fell about 100 feet down a hill, seriously injuring his leg and landing in a rocky draw underneath a fallen tree, according to a post on the sheriff’s office Facebook page.
The helicopter crew landed nearby to plan the rescue and configure the helicopter for a long line rescue, the sheriff’s office said. The pilot then flew the tactical flight officer, EMT, and all the rescue and medical gear back to the scene.
The flight officer and medic were dropped down to injured man and prepare him for the rescue involving a 200-foot line, which involved communicating to the helicopter pilot a series of altitude and directional changes because the pilot could not see through the overhanging trees, the sheriff’s office said.
Once clear, they were flown about a mile to the closest spot an ambulance could drive to. The unidentified guardsman’s condition was not immediately known.
The sheriff’s office offered words of praise and gratitude to the firefighters working the wildfires.
“The Henry-1 [helicopter] crews are in awe about the terrain and conditions these firefighters and guardsmen work in. From the Sheriff’s Office, Thank You Firefighters for all the professionalism and hard work in very unforgiving conditions. We appreciate all of you and we’re here if you need us.”