Tales from the Bonfire | First Responders
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Monday, June 17, 2024
Tales from the Bonfire | First Responders

Tales from the Bonfire | First Responders

Tales from the Bonfire
Thursday, April 25, 2024

Photo by Rick Hornsby.

Most skydiving boogies are festive events where friends from all over join to share the skies for a fun weekend. This January’s Blue Skies Boogie at Skydive Mesquite in Nevada started just that way—but what happened on January 12 really showed what a group of skydivers are capable of when they come together.

By 3:00 p.m., eight uneventful Caravan loads had already gone up. A 10-minute call went out, and jumpers began gearing up in the hangar for load 9, when suddenly someone yelled out, “A plane crashed on the runway!” Immediately, everyone dropped their gear and began sprinting out to an experimental airplane that had crashed on landing, coming to rest upside-down.

The sole occupant, a retired Air Force fighter pilot, was resting against the clear canopy. He didn’t appear to be moving. Skydivers called 911 and the airport manager (to shut down the active runway), and two of the DZ’s tandem instructors approached the plane. They were soon followed by a group of jumpers, one of whom was a physician.

After a quick assessment, it was clear that the pilot wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse, so they made the decision to extricate him from the aircraft. Several jumpers got under the tail of the plane and lifted it off the ground, while four more removed the canopy and freed the pilot. At this point, the local flight medics from Mercy Air had arrived, but EMS and fire were still minutes out.

The TIs and physician immediately started CPR. Soon they were able to get a pulse back, and by that time EMS arrived on the scene. They helped stabilize the patient, who was then loaded into a helicopter and taken to the local trauma center for ongoing care.

The group of skydivers that saved the pilot’s life came from all different professions and backgrounds. Some had previous military service, though most had little to no medical expertise. Working together, however, they accomplished something that day that others train years to do. Had they waited for EMS and fire to arrive, the outcome would probably have been much worse. Chris Fountain, Brad Jessey, Dan Jones, Joshua Kaschmitter, Harris Kashtan, Tyler Kelly, Ryan Kobayashi, Craig Labrum, Tyler Martin, Tariq Pinto, Rocco Silingo, Elijah Webber and James Wipplinger all helped in saving that pilot.

Teamwork can help people overcome significant adversity. And having even a few individuals at a drop zone with some basic medical training can make the difference between life and death.

Harris Kashtan | C-47732
Las Vegas, Nevada

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