The Oregon Army National Guard dispatched a OH-58 Kiowa helicopter at 8:30pm - shortly after an electronic distress signal was picked up by NOAA. The area identified was huge. The Kiowa was equipped with FLIR - forward looking infrared radar - a technology that displays contrasts in temperature and can be used in the dark. They were able to find the heat signatures of the two men and pinpoint their location. They were able to drop survival items to the men - including warm sleeping bags, water and food. They also transmitted the location to the ground rescue teams.
At first light, March 6, the ground rescue teams went in on snowmobiles and then snowshoes for over a mile and located the two men. However, their injuries and the terrain made ground extraction impossible.
Two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the Oregon Army National Guard were able to conduct hoist extractions for both men and transported them to St. Charles Hospital in Bend. They also extracted the rescue teams. The two men are listed in stable condition.
What could have been tragic had a happy ending thanks to the Oregon Army National Guard.
Each winter the Guard is involved in numerous rescues of those playing in the winter wonderland. You may be familiar with a few of the recent events on Mount Hood. These missions are incredibly dangerous for the crews, but they are always there protecting us and, often, saving us from ourselves.
A large contingent of the Oregon Army National Guard is currently in Afghanistan.