Kentucky National Guard Helicopter Crew Reflects Over 70 Flood Rescue – Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky

Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky 2022-08-05 22:40:50 –

(LEX 18) — For the crew of the Kentucky National Guard’s Blackhawk Helicopter, nothing beats a day at work.

“It’s a great job! Hanging out of a helicopter 100 or 200 feet above ground or water can be intimidating, but that’s what I love to do,” said crew chief and hoist operator Sergeant Major Sean Morris.

In 2019, Morris and his crew, Flight Medic Sergeant Jeremy Lowe, helped the Kentucky National Guard with the first civilian rescue on the hoist.

“Someone had a medical condition and we rescued her from the top of the Natural Bridge. It was amazing. It was the first time we’d done a live rescue with a civilian,” Morris said.

The hoist can lower Rowe to the ground to help the patient and return it to the helicopter.

“He’s really good at taking me there and getting me right back,” Rowe said.

Over the past few years, they’ve performed several hoist rescues of civilians on missions in Kentucky, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, but they weren’t prepared for what they faced in eastern Kentucky last week.

“At 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, around 6 a.m., I got a call saying they needed people. There was massive flooding in the eastern part of the state,” Morris said. .

“As soon as we were in the air and through that path with radio communication, we started receiving missions: people on rooftops, people trapped in trees, people in cars, on bridges. People are stuck everywhere,” Lowe said. “I wasn’t prepared for the amount of water running through those towns and valleys. There was an incredible amount of water running through them. It was devastation like I’ve never seen in a natural disaster.” .”

A ground team, or a search and rescue team on a boat, called to coordinates where people need help.

“It was on and on. It was constant. If it hadn’t been for the call from the rescue team, I would see people on the roof, on the roof,” Morris said. Told.

They flew over one house where people took refuge in the attic as water levels continued to rise. Rowe went down to the roof, made contact with them through the vent, and came out onto the roof through the window.

“Water started to seep into the attic, which added to the urgency. We had to rush to get them out of the attic and off the roof. When we first got there it was at the bottom of the window and when it was all over it was up to neck height,” Lowe said.

For most people, Rowe used a rescue sheet, but for others, like the 83-year-old woman he rescued, a basket made more sense.

“When the boat crew brought her to me she ran up that roof like a goat. Amazing!’ She did a very good job and rode that basket like a champ.” I did,” Rowe said.

Altogether, Lowe, Morris, and their crews saved 75 people on Thursday and Friday by hoisting or landing to pick them up. In all, over 600 people were rescued. This is an astonishing number.

“At first, I thought, ‘Couldn’t I have helped more?’ We took a nap or something. We were ‘going’ for 8 hours straight both days, which was the maximum we were allowed to fly.

For crew like Lowe and Morris, it’s something they’ve been working on for years.

“Just sitting back and thinking, wow, we got this done in such a short amount of time, it’s an incredible feeling,” Morris said.

“I joined the Guard to help my neighbors and to help the citizens of the Commonwealth,” Rowe said.

And for citizens who needed help last week, they were the answer to so many desperate prayers.

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