SEATTLE — A Coast Guard aircrew witnessed and responded to a plane crash around 11 a.m. while re-fueling at the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport, Monday.
The pilot, Lt. Wesley Jones, copilot, Ensign Jake Rettig, flight mechanic, Petty Officer 2nd Class Will France and the rescue swimmer, Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Dominguez, aircrew of an MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station North Bend, Oregon, rendered aid until local emergency personnel could arrive.
The aircrew was homebound after participating in the Tri-City Water Follies airshow when they stopped at the airport to refuel. While there they witnessed a fixed-wing single engine plane crash about 200 yard from their helicopter in a remote section of the airfield.
They immediately ran to the crash site and yelled for someone to call 911. When they got on site, they came across the wreckage and one critically injured man. The rescue swimmer, a qualified EMT, began rendering medical aid while the other crew members worked to make the site safe, shutting off the electronics in the plane as fuel and oil were leaked from the aircraft.
When EMS personnel arrived, the crew helped them get the man out and on to a backboard, then worked together to keep him alive as a civilian life flight prepared for his transport.
“For 35 minutes the rescue swimmer played a critical role, performing medical assistance and treating the patient along with the help of a paramedic flight nurse and an EMT from local EMS,” said Jones. “Prior to life flight arrival, our swimmer was breathing for the patient for 15 minutes by pumping oxygen into his lungs.”
Once abroad the life flight, he was transported for further medical care.
Dallesport Fire Department and Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office personnel held joint command of the scene until Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board staff arrived.