A kayaker submerged waist deep in the frigid Potomac River in Washington County on Jan. 31 was hoisted to safety by a Maryland State Police helicopter crew who then flew him to a hospital for treatment of possible hypothermia.
Shortly before 2:00 p.m., fire and rescue units from both Frederick and Washington counties were dispatched to the Potomac River, just west of the US Rt. 340 bridge in Sandy Hook, Md., for a kayaker who was stranded in the river. Maryland State Police helicopter, Trooper 3, based in Frederick, was also dispatched for a possible hoist rescue.
Rescue personnel spotted the stranded kayaker submerged to his waist and clinging to a rock to avoid being swept downstream in the swift moving water. The 54-year-old male victim was about 75 yards off the Maryland shore. Due to the 35 degree water and 25 degree air temperatures, fire department rescuers on the ground coordinated with the crew of Trooper 3 to hoist the victim from overhead to safety as quickly as possible.
The crew of Trooper 3, using the AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter, lowered a rescue basket down to the stranded kayaker. The victim was able to climb into the rescue basket and was hoisted into the aircraft. The victim was then immediately flown to Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, for further evaluation and treatment of suspected hypothermia.
The Maryland State Police Aviation Command has served Maryland citizens since 1970, and operates a fleet of ten helicopters from seven bases throughout Maryland on a 24/7/365 basis. Missions include medevac, law enforcement, search & rescue, homeland security, and disaster assessment. The success of rescues performed by the Aviation Command depends a great deal on the cooperative effort of local fire, rescue, EMS, and law enforcement agencies.