The video raises an important question: if you’re stranded in the desert, would you rather suffer heat stroke and death by dehydration or be placed in a basket that spins almost as rapidly as the rotor of the helicopter sent to “rescue” you?
The incident took place on Piestewa Peak in the mountains above Phoenix, Arizona, where the elderly woman had suffered facial and head injuries Tuesday morning during her hike.
First-responders from the Phoenix Fire Department determined that a hoist rescue and airlift to an area trauma center was “the best course of action,” so the injured hiker was strapped to a gurney beneath the waiting helicopter.
As Deadspin wrote:
“This either did not go as planned, or the way they plan things in Phoenix is designed to discourage anyone from ever climbing mountains within city limits ever again.”
Upon being lifted into the air, the gurney immediately began spinning wildly—a result of the air turbulence from the helicopter rotor.
While the rescue crew claims they had previous experience dealing with the issue and the know-how to prevent the spinning from continuing—it continued.
Pilot Derek Geisel told KTAR News that the spin was mitigated during the half-mile flight to the landing zone:
“Once we got the forward flight, the spin got quite a bit less to the point where they were safely able to bring the patient up to the aircraft.”
In a press conference, Phoenix Police Chief Pilot Paul Apolinar admitted that a crucial component failed in the rescue of the poor woman:
“Sometimes when we bring the helicopter up from the ground, it will start to spin, so we have a line attached to the basket to help prevent that …Today, it didn’t.”
Following the landing, the patient was treated for extreme dizziness and nausea, but technical rescue technician Capt. Bobby Dubnow claims that the effects of the spinning weren’t serious. Dubnow said:
“Reports from the hospital are that she is stable and suffered no effects from the spinning.
The crews decided the helicopter was going to be the best option based on the patient’s age, the mechanism of her injury, the heat of the day, the terrain, the amount of work and time it would have taken to bring her down in a big wheel or other means… The helicopter was the correct decision.”
However, footage of the rescue quickly made the rounds on social media, with video of the rescue posted to ABC15’s Facebook page garnering 2 million views within six hours.
?HELICOPTER RESCUE ?Phoenix Fire officials say a 74-year-old woman was flown off of Piestewa Peak this morning after she suffered an injury. She was taken to a trauma center for evaluation: bit.ly/2In21mb
Posted by ABC15 Arizona on Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Comments left by netizens predictably ranged from the incredulous to the hilarious.
One commenter said:
“This should be a new ride at the Arizona State Fair this year. I feel sorry for someone’s grandma ?? out there fidget spinning from a helicopter. ? Paw ? patrol would have done a better job. ??♂️”
Another user commented:
“This is literally how I feel under my bedroom fan after I’ve drank to much! #SameNoise #SameSpins”
But the most clever commenter noted that the hospital wouldn’t need a centrifuge, because “plasma and red blood cells [were] successfully separated,” en route.
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