Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Sky is Falling!

I love my husband dearly and I really like having him around. The truth, though, is that I get so much more sewing done when he is travelling. After all, I don't have to worry about silly things like taking time to eat when he is not here so I can spend much more time in the studio. On Monday we both drove up to Billings so he could fly out at 6am on Tuesday morning. After he left I stayed to do the monthly grocery shopping then headed home. I arrived home slightly after noon and hurried through putting the groceries away and feeding the animals so I could get at my eagerly anticipated creating marathon. I should have known better. I barely finished feeding and watering the final chickens when my pager let out its intrusive scream. A plane crash south of Cody. These are scary calls. A plane crash can mean anything from a one seater to a 747 and rarely has a happy ending. It is something we train for regularly and, even though it is not common, this is not the first time we have been called to the scene of a crash.

By the time I got to Cody we knew the craft involved was a private helicopter. Its location was the very top of one of the higher peaks around but luckily there was lots of room to land other choppers for medical help and evacuation. Our pilot went up with the Sheriff in our fixed wing aircraft and was soon able to transmit back more information about the scene. He dropped a radio to the people he could see on the ground and we soon knew there were four people (including a six month old baby) and a dog in the chopper when it went down. None were seriously injured and there was only one person who required medical help for a back injury. Their biggest problem was that they were stranded and darkness was coming soon. They had a satellite phone with them and had somehow managed to call the National Guard in Montana when they hit. The Sheriff's Department is still trying to figure out all the details but for some reason the State of Montana sent in a Black Hawk helicopter from Helena to assist before calling and alerting us. We had immediately called in Air Idaho for medical evacuation plus another chopper from nearby Worland to take some of our SAR people to the accident location. I was given the job of ground support at staging. I hate that job and find myself pacing the whole time wishing I were at the scene but we have to take turns at the various tasks and each job is as important as the other (at least that is what they tell us to make us feel better - it doesn't work!) Anyway, all the choppers arrived at about the same time and I guess it was an amazing sight to see the four birds - three rescuers plus the injured craft - and the fixed wing plane all congregating on top of the mountain. We were able to get everyone out in one stroke and order was restored in no time but it was still bed time by the time I got home last night. I am not sure what they are going to do about the chopper they had to leave on top of the mountain. That is one expensive toy to throw away.
I am keeping my fingers crossed the pager stays quiet today so I can sew!

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