Air Station Crews to be Honored for Medevac

293479.jpgJay Barrett/KMXT

An Air Station Kodiak HH-65 helicopter crew was one of the honorees announced Monday by the Helicopter Association International. The crew will be presented with the H-A-I’s "Salute to Excellence" award at a banquet scheduled for February 22nd in Houston, Texas.

Pilot Jason Smith and Petty Officer 3rd Class Blaize Potts, both still in Kodiak, and pilot Greg Gedemer and rescue swimmer Matthew Thiessen, both now at Barber’s Point, Hawaii, won the award for their rescue of a crewman suffering from a severe head injury off the fishing vessel Kodiak, 90 miles west of Cold Bay, during blizzard conditions on January 30th this year.

Faced with low clouds, limited visibility and severe icings conditions, the helicopter crew navigated through 90 miles of clouds and snow using GPS and radar find to the fishing vessel.

Once on scene, the crew faced the challenge of hoisting the crewman from the pitching and rolling vessel. With high antennas and rigging on the Kodiak, the hoist had to occur 75 to 100 feet above the vessel.

On the first hoisting attempt, the rescue swimmer was lowered, but hit the vessel’s crane. The helicopter crew then found a safer hoisting location and successfully lifted the crewman, who was then transferred to emergency medical personnel in Cold Bay.

The "Salute to Excellence" Awards program, now in its 49th year, recognizes outstanding achievement in the international helicopter community. More information can be found at .

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