FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The state of Arkansas has helicopter rescue teams ready to help anyone who becomes injured in a hard to reach area.
This is a collaboration with the Arkansas National Guard and the Arkansas Urban Search and Rescue Task Force One. The National Guard provides the helicopter while local first responders that are a part of the Arkansas Task Force One provide the manpower and equipment.
There are two teams that serve the entire state. One team is responsible for the northern half of the state while the other serves the southern half. According to Assistant Fire Chief Willie Watts, the counties that provide the teams are Washington and Pulaski.
Fayetteville Fire Department had its first helicopter rescue mission last month. The rescue team was deployed to Buffalo National River after someone was injured while hiking.
According to Watts, the partnership gives rescue teams another avenue to quickly get to people who are hurt.
“It just gives us some speed and it’s just another tool in the toolbox to be able to use. What it does is it allows us to get into very difficult places,” said Watts.
Watts stated an on foot rescue would have taken six to seven hours. However, once the hiker was inside the helicopter it was a 10 to 15 minute flight to an ambulance.