On June 4th, 2019, a 74-year-old woman fell and sustained multiple injuries to her face and head while hiking outside Phoenix, Arizona. The Phoenix Fire Department was notified and sent a rescue helicopter to extract the injured woman and rush her to the nearest hospital. To extract the patient, the search and rescue crew used a standard tag line to eliminate the swing expected to be encountered during the operation. However, mid-rescue the litter carrying the 74-year-old got caught in the rotor wash (wind) of the helicopter, causing the patient to spin uncontrollably. This soon caused the lifesaving tag line to break. She was slowly lowered to a nearby parking lot, reportedly nauseous and dizzy in addition to the original injuries she had earlier sustained when she fell.
This shocking episode is a search and rescue reality that kills or injures 24 people every day all over the world during helicopter hoisting operations. Vita’s Load Stability Solution or LSS would have prevented this terrifying spin, ensuring that the poor woman would have made it safely into the helicopter without issue. Currently Vita is committed to supply the LSS to the USAF 129th Pararescue squadron. By leveraging Vita’s Load Stability System, the swing and spin this 74-year-old patient was subject to will be eliminated. Eventually, private search and rescue crews like the Phoenix Fire Department and others will be enabled to ensure that this deadly spin is a thing of the past, allowing them to focus on their mission: bringing people home safely, every time.