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Sheriff's helicopter crew rescues man from Hood Mountain

  • PC: Sonoma County Sheriff's helicopter, Henry 1, takes flight Tuesday at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa.

    2/26/2003: B1: Henry 1 takes flight Tuesday at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa. While the $1.5 million helicopter program is considered a luxury by some, Sheriff Bill Cogbill says it is an effective department tool.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office helicopter crew rescued a 53-year-old heart attack victim Saturday afternoon from a remote area of Hood Mountain Regional Park.

The helicopter, Henry 1, responded to an area of the park known as Gunsight Rock, which has limited vehicle access.

Santa Rosa Fire Capt. Dan Ricci and sheriff's Deputy Chris Mahoney also responded to the call, meeting Henry 1 in a parking lot after the crew spotted the victim from the air in an area where they could not land the helicopter.

"(The victim) had hiked out to the highest point you could go and his heart gave out," said Ricci, a 15-year veteran of the Fire Department and a paramedic who works with Henry 1. "There was no way he could have gotten out of there on his own."

Ricci said the victim, who was not identified, was hiking with a Boy Scout troop. Ricci and Mahoney met the Henry 1 crew and configured the helicopter on the spot for a long-line rescue via a 100-foot cable.

Ricci said the copter was configured in a matter of minutes, then flown back over the victim where he and Mahoney were lowered to the ground so they could provide life support to the man, who Ricci said, had a full blockage of an artery.

"We were lowered through the trees and onto the rocks," he said. "When we got there, it was clear he was in trouble and time was of the essence."

The man was placed on a stretcher, which was carried at the end of the line to an open area where the helicopter could land. The crew then loaded the man into Henry 1's cabin and flew him to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where officials said he was being treated in the cardiac unit. His condition was not available Saturday night.

Ricci said the rescue took about a half-hour from the time the Henry 1 crew responded until the patient was transferred to the hospital.

"It was one of the best days I've ever had on Engine 7," Ricci said. "Henry 1 and everyone involved did an amazing job. We were in the right place at the right time."

You can reach Staff Writer ElizabethM. Cosin at 521-5276 or elizabeth.cosin@pressdemocrat.com.

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