Salisbury-based Black Hawk crew helped rescue injured climber
SALISBURY — A distress call went out Monday afternoon concerning a climber who fell while rappelling and landed on a cliff hundreds of feet above the ground on Shortoff Mountain, in the Linville Gorge wilderness area in western North Carolina.
An N.C. Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter based in Salisbury, in conjunction with members Gaston County EMS’s N.C. Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART), were tasked to rescue the climbers.
Shortoff Mountain is near the Linville Gorge and has a vertical face that is popular among rock climbers.
The rescue required the Black Hawk to hover approximately 150 feet above the rock ledge and less than 15 feet from the rock face.
Capt. Darrell Scoggins, commander for the rescue mission, was flying the Black Hawk during Monday’s rescue. He was interviewed at the National Guard flight facility once the mission was complete.
“You’re proud this guy is going to be reunited with his family,” Scoggins told a local TV station. “We pulled him out of a sticky situation and we’re just happy we could be there to help.”
Capt. Chris Hendricks, with Gaston County EMS, was the Aquatic Rescue Team technician who went down to retrieve the injured climber and bring him man back into the helicopter.
“He was pretty concentrated on the pain,” Hendricks said of the climber, who was able to talk to rescuers. “You could see the look in his face — he was hurting pretty good.”
Gaston County EMS reported that the injured climber was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center-Main in Charlotte.
“The lasting partnership and year-round training that the (N.C. National Guard), N.C. emergency Management and local emergency specialists with (N.C. Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team) conduct are the reasons these missions are successful,” said Scoggins.
This mission is the second successful collaboration between the National Guard and the Aquatic Rescue Team since January. N.C. Emergency Management — N.C. Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team also executes missions involving swift water/flood rescue, lost persons and urban/wilderness high angle rescues.
The Aquatic Rescue Team is a highly specialized team consisting of N.C. Army National Guard, N.C. Emergency Management personnel and local firefighters who perform helicopter-based rescues.
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