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New tool allows DPS to perform technical rescues at night

Posted at 6:40 PM, Dec 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-19 20:40:37-05

PHOENIX — It's giving the Arizona Department of Public Safety a new tool to rescue stranded hikers, and one that could save lives on any given day.

DPS now has the capability to perform certain types of technical rescues at night. A DPS helicopter, equipped with a hoist on the outside, allows crews to perform nighttime rescues that would otherwise require a different solution, or would force them to wait for sunrise.

"This is huge because this is the first time, in DPS history, 47 years, that we've done an external load rescue at night," said DPS Trooper/Paramedic Sharon Cups. "It literally will save peoples lives."

Cups was part of a team that rescued a stranded climber on Thunder Mountain near Sedona last month. It marked the first time DPS has used the hoist for this type of nighttime rescue.

"Once that nighttime approaches and we don't have usable light, we can't do the extraction operation," said DPS Trooper/Paramedic Edgar Bissonnette. "Now we can."

DPS crews had been training with the hoist for nighttime rescues, before putting the capability to use for the first time in November.

Since last month, DPS has used the new nighttime rescue capability with the hoist three times across the state.

In total, DPS has taken part in more than 400 rescues statewide this year.