Every year, thousands of stranded hikers are rescued in parks around the country, often in mountainous areas that are hard to reach by foot or vehicle.Priority 1 Air Rescue of Mesa, Arizona, trains first responders to perform search-and-rescue missions by helicopter in just such remote locales.
Pictured here is a hoist-rescue drill the company conducted in April with members of California's Placer County Sheriff's Office at the Auburn Dam Overlook area in Auburn, California.(The instructor on the ground is signaling to the helicopter pilot that the aircraft has cleared the tree line.) Former paramedic and firefighter Brad Matheson founded Priority 1 in 1998.
Since then, the 80-employee company has provided helicopter rescue, aerial gunnery, and in-flight medical training to hospitals, law enforcement agencies, and military groups worldwide, including the U.S. National Guard and the South Korean coast guard. Priority 1 also provides medevac services to oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.