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Helicopter crew rescues camper from Linville Gorge

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Mountain rescue teams, local rescuers and an emergency helicopter crew worked together in frigid predawn conditions Saturday to rescue a camper in Linville Gorge who was suffering heart problems.

The 59-year old man had been winter camping with a party along the Pinch-In trail, near the river at the bottom of Linville Gorge when he began experiencing chest pains.  The campers called 911 and local rescuers and two Mountain Rescue Teams responded to assist.  Rescue teams hiked in, reached the campers in the gorge and provided first aid and advanced life support. Facing a carry out of several hours over icy trails, the rescue teams called for HC HART (Helo-Aquatic Rescue Team) is to assist with the emergency evacuation.   

A North Carolina National Guard UH-60 aircrew and three rescue technicians from the Charlotte Fire Department lifted off from Salisbury and arrived on the scene around 4:30 a.m.  They hoisted the man to safety, along with paramedics who were treating him, delivered him to an EMS vehicle and he was transported to a local hospital.

Responders from Burke County Rescue, McDowell Rescue, the Parkway Fire and Rescue Department and from the Parkway Fire and Linville Central Mountain Rescue Teams assisted in the rescue effort. 

“We are grateful to all the rescuers who train extensively and were there to help in these cold and icy conditions,” said Gov. Roy Cooper.

North Carolina Emergency Management supports five specially trained and equipped Mountain Rescue Teams based across western North Carolina. Two of those teams were involved in this rescue.

NC HART is a North Carolina Emergency Management program that pairs civilian rescuers with military and law enforcement aviation assets. Local rescue technicians complete extensive helo-aquatic rescue training with helicopters and aircrews from the State Highway Patrol and N.C. National Guard. On any given mission, two or three of the 60 specially-trained technicians are called upon and partnered with an aircrew to rescue stranded or injured persons. Technicians and pilots train together monthly, rotating training sites so they can practice various types of rescues: people stranded in rapidly moving water, on mountains, cliffs or waterfalls.

Contact:  Keith Ac