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Colorado National Guard battles weather in Dolores County high-altitude rescue  
Colorado National Guard Public Affairs 
Tuesday, July 27, 2010     

Air Force Maj. Elena O'Bryan
(720) 250-1050

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (7/26/10) – The Colorado National Guard was called yesterday to assist local authorities rescue a group of hikers on Mt. Wilson in the San Juan Mountain Range near Telluride, Colo. 

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, with a crew of four Colorado Army National Guardsmen, launched from the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site in Gypsum, Colo., to conduct the rescue operation.

The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center contacted the Colorado National Guard at approximately 1:00 p.m. to assist in the search and rescue efforts led by the Dolores County Sheriff’s Department. The helicopter crew quickly mobilized to the scene within the required two hour window. 

The Colorado National Guard inserted two civilian search and rescue teams at 13,000 feet to locate the hikers. Thunderstorms made the rescue difficult, but the crew was successful at extracting two of the injured hikers.

The flight crew was ready to deploy night vision capabilities if the situation called for the specialized equipment. Including civilian search and rescue teams, the COARNG transported 17 personnel off of the mountain. 

Two hikers walked down. A third expired prior to the rescue crew’s launch and was transported by a civilian rescue helicopter.

“(It was) another outstanding job by a professional flight crew,” said Army Maj. Joshua Day, HAATS commander. 

Colorado National Guard rescue efforts are coordinated through the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. The center ties in to the Federal Aviation Administration’s alerting system and the U.S. Mission Control Center.

HAATS is located in the small mountain town of Gypsum, Colo., near Vail. The school caters to rotory-wing military pilots from all over the world. Graduates of this challenging course leave with the knowledge of a unique training system known as Power Management. This training concept, when applied rigorously, gives pilots the knowledge and confidence to operate their machines routinely and safely at maximum gross weights in any environment.

While the primary role of HAATS is to train, the facility also assists with search and rescue missions when the terrain or altitude makes landing a civilian EMS aircraft questionable or there is a need for specialized military equipment.

For more than 150 years the Colorado National Guard has served communities across Colorado while defending our nation. The Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen of the Colorado National Guard are always ready, always there.


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