Appalachian Trail hiker airlifted by Tennessee National Guard near Gatlinburg

In Hiking


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An Appalachian Trail hiker was airlifted to UT Medical Center by the Tennessee National Guard after they began having chest pains.

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, around 12:30 p.m., the Tennessee Military Department and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency were notified that a 56-year-old hiker was suffering from cardiac distress. The hiker had stopped at the Derrick Knob Shelter, just off the Appalachian Trail and near the border of Tennessee and North Carolina.

The Tennessee National Guard was alerted because of the severity of the medical emergency. They were instructed to find the hiker and take them to the nearest hospital.

Around 1 p.m., a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter left Louisville with a crew assigned to the 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion, heading to the Derrick Knob Shelter just outside of Gatlinburg in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Just after the crew located the hiker, two crew members were lowered by a hoist to help. The flight paramedics assessed the hiker before all three were hoisted into the hovering helicopter. Crews continued to give aid to the hiker as they took them to UT Medical Center in Knoxville.

The flight took a total of 20 minutes to arrive at UT Medical Center, and once it landed, the hiker was rushed to the emergency room. From the time the helicopter first took off, the rescue mission took less than one hour.

The flight crew included Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Backus, pilot in command, 1st Lt. Brandon Rodriguez, pilot, Sgt. Christopher Farrar, crew chief and flight paramedics Sgt. 1st Class Giovanni DeZuani and Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Banta.



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