First Response & Rescue

On March 9, 2019, a bright but bitterly cold and windy day, nationally registered paramedic and certified flight nurse Tim Moore, and nationally registered critical flight paramedic Vern Miller and their pilot were sent on a call. Local rescue squads needed help locating a downed airplane in the Sylvania Wilderness Area. Because of the dense terrain, an aerial view would give them the best chance of locating the plane. Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Medical Transport – Spirit 2, took to the air.

“The Vilas County Sheriff's Department was in phone contact with the pilot of the plane, but couldn’t determine the plane’s location,” Tim recalled. “Dispatch was able to track the location of the cell signal, and that gave us a general idea of where they were.”

The pilot of the plane heard the helicopter’s rotors and could tell that it was heading away from their location. He told the dispatcher, and Spirit 2’s pilot turned around.

“We found them on a frozen lake,” Tim said. “We weren't able to land on the ice because our pilot couldn’t tell what was underneath the snow.”

Spirit 2 landed about 150 yards away from the plane. Tim and Vern trudged through the snow which was, at certain points, more than waist-deep, carrying their 35 to 40-pound MERET bags loaded with first aid supplies. 

When they reached the plane, the pilot and a passenger were both were very cold, and one had a head injury. There was no road access to that area making it impossible for an ambulance to reach them, so the Spirit 2 crew flew them to the airport. 

“We wanted to get them out of there, but there wasn’t room for all of us on the helicopter, so I stayed back,” Tim stated. “Vern and the pilot were able to fly both patients to the airport, where an ambulance was waiting. Once the patients were with the ambulance crew, our pilot came back and picked me up and took me to the airport. We transported the gentleman with the head injury to Aspirus Wausau Hospital.”

Access to quality healthcare in the Northwoods is never in doubt. Building a hanger in Woodruff to base Spirit 2 was made possible thanks to the many who donated generously to the Howard Young Foundation.

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