RIVERSIDE: Air-1 helps with Thanksgiving rescue of stranded hikers
From Riverside Police Department:
On Thursday, November 24, 2016, shortly after 1:00 p.m., the Riverside Police Department’s Air Support Unit (AIR-1) was dispatched by the Corona Police Department for a group of 5 stranded hikers in heavy brush off of Skyline Ridge trail near the City of Corona. The hikers had been without water for approximately 4 hours and the youngest hiker, a 13-year-old male, was suffering from dehydration and unable to walk out.
The hikers were in cell phone communication with Corona Police Dispatch. With the help of those dispatchers, AIR-1 was able to quickly locate the group in an area of heavy brush, on steep terrain, which was not accessible by ground vehicles or easily accessible on foot, nor was there anywhere close to land a helicopter.
AIR-1 relayed this to the CalFire incident commander and the CalFire helicopter (COPTER-301) from Hemet-Ryan Airport responded. They evacuated the 13-year-old male with their rescue hoist and flew him to an awaiting ground ambulance near the bottom of the hill.
The other four adult hikers believed they could make it out on foot, so COPTER-301 returned to their airport base. AIR-1 remained overhead to ensure the rest of the group could make it out. Shortly thereafter, the aircrew realized the group was having trouble navigating the heavy brush, so they had Corona Police Dispatch re-establish phone communication with them, at which point they confirmed they could not locate a trail out to safety.
AIR-1 utilized their PA system and directed the group up to an area close to a trail. The aircrew decided to land and have Tactical Flight Officer Steve Quinn deploy on foot from the top of the trail to the group. Pilot Officer Jeff Ratkovich then lifted off and directed Officer Quinn via radio to the group’s location.
After making contact with the group, it was decided AIR-1 would fly each member down to the bottom of the mountain due to the length of time the group had been without water and the fact they were exhausted. They were airlifted to the command post where they were evaluated by CalFire and AMR, then reunited with their families.
With the interoperability capabilities of the RPD Air Support Unit, CalFire Air Support and the outstanding 9-1-1 communications support from both the Corona and Riverside Police Departments, what could have turned into a lengthy search and rescue operation was resolved in a short period of time. All five hikers were able to enjoy their Thanksgiving dinners with their families and probably have a great story to share around the dinner table.
View aerial footage taken by Tactical Flight Officer Quinn during portions of this operation.