Some twists and turns in difficult mountain rescue

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Rescuers use a helicopter to lift a hiker with a medical condition off Camelback Mountain By Mike Gertzman Rescuers use a helicopter to lift a hiker with a medical condition off Camelback Mountain By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- A mountain rescue on Friday did not go exactly as planned but it did end safely.

The Phoenix Fire Department used a helicopter to pull a man off Camelback Mountain. He was hiking Echo Canyon when he started feeling terrible pain in his chest.

Rescue crews said he was dying in front of them and they knew they did not have much time to get him to a hospital.

The decision was made to airlift the man off the mountain. The Crew lowered a basket on a rope from the helicopter. Once the patient was secured in the basket he delicate process of hoisting him in to the helicopter began.

That is when the rescue took a startling turn. It was at that point the news helicopter arrived and the airborne reporter, Tammy Rose, described the scene like this, "This isn't supposed to happen where he's spinning so fast. They had to drop him down a little bit and now they're going to bring him back up."

The basket, hanging from a rope, high off the ground, with the patient in it, got caught in the powerful blast of air coming of the rescue helicopter's rotors.

"There was a couple things that contributed to the spin here because of the increase in height and steepness of the extraction," said Phoenix Fire Department Captain David Knobbe.

Knobbe was the man working the hoist as the basket was spinning uncontrollably.

"Sometimes there are factors beyond our control to keep that from happening," according Phoenix Fire Department Captain Bobby Dubnow.

Dubnow was manning the trail line from the ground.

"The way we correct it is typically lower the load down, gain control of the spin and attempt it again," described Knobbe.

The dramatic spin and subsequent recovery were over in fewer than two minutes and in hindsight the crews are convinced the airlift was the best chance they had to save the man's life.

"It's a nice save for us. All the tools that we have kind of blending our street medicine with the mountain rescue tools that we have with Firebird 10, the helicopter and the hoist," explained Dubnow.

The rescuers say the patient likely would have died if they had not used the helicopter.

At last check, that man was resting at the hospital in stable condition.