Injured Paraglider Pilot Hoisted From Steep Terrain By Air Crews

A United States Navy Search and Rescue helicopter from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station was called out to assist in the rescue of a paraglider who crashed and was badly injured on the hillside just above Doug’s Beach, east of Lyle, on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 17.(submitted photo)

On the morning of Oct. 17, a paraglider crashed and was severely injured on a cliff just above Doug’s Beach near Lyle.

“The person who reported the incident said the victim was conscious and alert but in extreme pain, losing circulation in his legs and feeling nauseous,” according to Klickitat County Emergency Management Director Jeff King.

The pilot crashed on steep terrain on the bald face of a hillside just below the ridgeline. The reporting party said the victim had fallen from over 30 feet while attempting to paraglide from the ridge to Doug’s Beach.

Klickitat County Department of Emergency Management (KCDEM) 9-1-1 Communications Officers worked with Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fire crews who responded by opening a locked gate nearest to the pilot’s location just off the Centerville Highway. The victim was found approximately 320 feet below the ridgeline on a very steep grass slope. Personnel from all Emergency Services agencies accessed the patient and began patient care, King said.

Klickitat County Emergency Services (KCEMS) requested an Air Ambulance helicopter due to the nature of the patient’s injuries and remote terrain. KCEMS and Life Flight EMS personnel requested KCDEM to ask the State Emergency Operations Center for a hoist helicopter due to the patient’s injuries and an extended overland rescue timeframe.

The hoist helicopter came from Navy Search and Rescue on Whidbey Island, landing on the ridge above the patient. At approximately the same time, ground KCEMS and Air Force Search and Rescue (SAR) responders started arriving in the area.

KCEMS personnel continued patient care and SAR personnel continued to plan and prepare for an overland rescue using a technical rope system and ground transportation as a contingency in case of the hoist helicopter operation was not successful, said King.

KCEMS requested emergency delivery of additional blood supply to the scene from Skyline Hospital. KCDEM Communications officers dispatched a sheriff’s deputy to make the blood delivery with an additional supply of blood flown in by a second Life Flight helicopter.

The Navy hoist helicopter arrived overhead at noon and performed a successful hoist rescue operation.

The victim was flown to a level one trauma center hospital in Portland for treatment. At last report, the victim was in critical but stable condition with multiple fractures and internal bleeding.

One witness to the event said it was the most incredible show of unity and communication between all of the emergency services she had ever seen.

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