Dozens of life-saving rescues in one week by Department of Public Safety

Mar 22, 2023, 6:44 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — A record number of life saving rescues in one week for two chopper crews with the Utah Department of Public Safety.

DPS said last week alone it’s Aero Bureau, which includes two helicopters — in Salt Lake City and St. George, had 35 missions, including 59.7 flight hours, and 15 search and rescue operations. In total, rescuing 24 people and hoisting 18 to safety.

“This was extremely busy. Kind of uncommon. But it wasn’t outside our capabilities,” Sgt. Kyle Curtis, who has several titles as the tactical flight operator out of St. George, told KSL TV.

“I’m glad that we are here to be able to do it. That’s what we train for,” Scott Barnes, pilot for the crew in St. George Bureau said. “It’s a higher volume than we normally get, but we have the resources and the personal and everybody is ready to do it.”

The best part of it all is finding that lost or stranded hiker still alive.

“When you actually get to find that person you are just ecstatic. Your mind automatically races to the next step to try and get them out of their bad situation,” Barnes said.

“We are their last hope every time they are extremely grateful,” Curtis said.

One of their most memorable rescues was finding Southern Utah Officer Brad Coleman still alive. He was stranded for more than 15 hours in a slot canyon after he had fallen 15 to 20 feet off a ridge while riding trails with his motorcycle.

“I thought we were probably looking for a body at this point just knowing how long he had been gone. The lack of contact, the lack of information. It could have been really bad,” said Curtis. “To first spot the bike and then as we started flying closer and over the top to see him moving, it was great!”

“When we first spotted him to see him move was just a great feeling,” said Barnes.

The months and months of training and hard work are paying off for the rescues.

“They are in a bad situation. I think they are thinking it could possibly be the end, and then we show up and get them out of that bad situation and get them on dry ground. They are always very grateful,” Barnes said.

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Dozens of life-saving rescues in one week by Department of Public Safety