Search and Rescue and Lifeflight Recognition


On April 18, 2009, five family members and friends were hiking above the Memorial Couloirs on Mount Olympus. As the group crossed the couloirs, one of the female members lost her footing and fell an estimated 1000 feet to her death. Two boys, ages 14 and 15, attempted to get down to her location and also fell and were seriously injured.

The Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team was called-out to get the victims safely off the mountain. An IHC Lifeflight Helicopter, equipped with a hoist system, was requested and responded to assist.  Our SAR team members worked with the Lifeflight crew to evaluate and assess the risks involved in this rescue and they formulated a plan to get the victims safely off the mountain. SAR Members were hoisted to the victims’ locations. They worked with Flight Paramedic Curtis Andersen to assess the snow safety hazards and exposure to them and the injured parties.

SAR members made multiple platforms out of snow on the steep mountain side and secured anchors to allow for a safe patient evaluation, treatment, and hoist location. These platforms where strategically placed in order to reduce the risk of avalanche hazards to the victims and rescuers. The skills and training of Flight Nurse Lorie Hutchison and Pilot Rex Orgill allowed the rescuers to safely secure and provide treatment to the victims.

All members of the group were safely hoisted off of the mountain and a SAR Member stayed behind to walk the groups’ dog down the mountain to safety. This was an incredible rescue which saved four lives and brought closure to the deceased victim’s family. The members of the Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team and the members of this Lifeflight crew worked together as a team to safely and skillfully perform this rescue.

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