State Forestry Helicopter Crew Honored for Rescue Mission

April 16, 2009

Nevada Division of Forestry Pilot Nick Lopes (left) and Helicopter Manager Lee Stewart (right) receive letters of appreciation from Commander Shane Yates, operations manager at Naval Air Station, Fallon, for their assistance in rescuing skiers near Heavenly, Nevada.

Nevada Division of Forestry Pilot Nick Lopes (left) and Helicopter Manager Lee Stewart (right) receive letters of appreciation from Commander Shane Yates, operations manager at Naval Air Station, Fallon, for their assistance in rescuing skiers near Heavenly, Nevada.

Nevada Division of Forestry Pilot Nick Lopes (left) and Helicopter Manager Lee Stewart (right) receive letters of appreciation from Commander Shane Yates, operations manager at Naval Air Station, Fallon, for their assistance in rescuing skiers near Heavenly, Nevada.

MINDEN, Nev. — When a skier went missing from Heavenly Ski Resort on March 3, an air-based search was determined to be the best way to look for the individual in the mountainous terrain.

Within an hour of being called out to the mission, the Nevada Division of Forestry’s helicopter crew spotted the skier. The skier was not in a position to be rescued on foot because of heavy snow, so Fallon Naval Air Station personnel, who were also part of the search and rescue mission, recovered the skier from its helicopter.

Meanwhile, NDF’s crew spotted two more skiers, who also appeared to be in trouble and out of resort’s boundary. Contact was made with the two additional skiers, and it was determined that because of heavy snow and hypothermia setting in, that naval ground crews would rescue the skiers.

NDF’s air operations provide search and rescue support, though the helicopter crew’s primary mission is initial attacks on wildland fires. The crew averages 100 hours of flight time 35 days a year helping to fight wildfires.

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State Parks ranger gives first-hand account of Fernley flood rescues

January 9, 2008

Rob Holley, law enforcement officer and State Park supervisor

By Rob Holley, Nevada State Parks

FALLON, Nev.–In more than 20 years of public safety, I have never operated in such severe conditions. The initial response required travel with lights and sirens on over 30 miles of snow- and ice-covered roads, which slowed response times. At this same time, and from the moment of the callout from dispatch, deputies were reporting numerous stranded persons that required a boat for evacuation, and they kept asking when we would be on scene. No boats had yet arrived. It was the longest 30 miles I’ve ever travelled.

When we arrived at Greenbrook Place in Fernley, it was still dark and well-below freezing. Emergency vehicles, residents and their vehicles, and spectators and their vehicles, clogged every dry street and intersection. Asphalt roads, concrete walks and driveways under the floodwaters were covered with a thin layer of ice—it was incredible how slick and treacherous vehicle and foot travel became.

Fire department personnel had removed a family from an attic. The combined smell of gasoline and sewage filled the air. Slush from the canal water along with coolers, gas cans, garbage, logs and other debris floated through the streets in 3-4-feet of water. We continued in the area for approximately 20 minutes looking for additional victims. The fire department commandeered a canoe and had two firemen checking house to house. Several families remained in their homes, as the waters in this area had receded about 6 inches after the initial flush. Read the rest of this entry »