NYPD rescues two West Point cadets

February 20, 2011 6:08:28 PM PST
The NYPD rescued two West Point cadets who became stranded on a cliff during an exercise.

Saturday night, the two United States Military Academy Cadets became disoriented and separated from their squad during a training exercise and became stranded on a cliff.

A search was conducted by USMA Military Personnel and local emergency responders.

The stranded cadets were located by a New York State Police helicopter.

The terrain that the cadets were stranded on was extreme and did not provide any suitable landing areas.

Attempts to reach the area by ground rescue personnel were also unsuccessful due to darkness and the challenging terrain.

Just after midnight, the NYPD's Aviation Unit joined in the rescue effort with their Air Support hoist capabilities.

The Emergency Service Unit also provided two Tactical Medics to join the rescue operation.

At about 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, a Bell 412 Air-Sea-Rescue helicopter departed Floyd Bennett Field and arrived at 2:10 a.m. and performed a search.

After an extensive search utilizing Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) and Night Vision Devices the cadets were located high atop Storm King Mountain tied off on a ledge obstructed by rock outcroppings and trees along a high rock formation.

Despite the dangers of extremely high turbulent winds and precision hovering close to the steep rising terrain the aircrew of Aviation #14 steadied the helicopter in a high hover using all available power.

One of the ESU Tactical Medics was lowered to a ledge using the "Horse Collar" rescue harness.

Both cadets were found suffering from hypothermia due to exposure to sub freezing temperatures and extremely high winds.

The ESU Tactical Medic, Detective Christopher Condon, stabilized the first victim and secured him to the "Horse Collar" rescue harness whereupon he was safely hoisted aboard Aviation #14 hovering overhead.

The aircrew, which was battling the turbulence and extreme winds as well as the high power demand, was unable to hoist the second victim and departed to the landing zone set up on a parade field on the West Point main post, leaving Detective Condon and the remaining cadet alone on Storm King Mountain.

Aviation #14 returned moments later and again took up high hover close to the rock formations and rising terrain in complete darkness and hoisted the remaining victim and finally Detective Condon from the narrow ledge, relocating to the landing zone.

The rescue mission was complete just before 3 a.m.

Upon landing the victims were transferred to a waiting ambulance and transported to Keller Army Medical Center on West Point.

The extended operation required most of the fuel available to complete the mission and the aircraft relocated to Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, NY where upon refueling the crew safely returned to Floyd Bennett Field at 4:30 a.m.

The following members of the NYPD were assigned to Aviation #14:
Police Officer Steve Browning, Aviation Unit, Pilot-in-Command
Detective Michael Sileo, Aviation Unit, Second-in-Command
Detective Fernando Almeida, Aviation Unit, Crew Chief
Detective Christopher Condon, ESU, Tactical Medic
Detective William Stevens, ESU, Emergency Medical Technician

The two cadets remain hospitalized, but they are expected to fully recover, thanks to the bravery of the NYPD Aviation Unit.

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