A woman in her 70s was injured during a hike in the Phoenix area on Tuesday and needed to be airlifted to safety. But the rescue didn’t go according to plan.
(Watch the rescue effort in the video above.)
“Sometimes when we bring the helicopter up from the ground, [the basket] will start to spin,” Paul Apolinar, chief pilot in the Phoenix Police Department’s Air Support Unit, said at a news conference, per ABC 15. “We have a line attached to the basket that’s supposed to prevent that. Today it didn’t.”
Instead, the basket began spinning wildly and with increasing speed.
“They tried to stop some of the spin with the line that Paul was referring to, but that didn’t work and it eventually broke,” Derek Geisel, who was pilot during the rescue, said.
The pilots attempted to lower the basket, which slowed the spin, but as they brought it back up again the spin returned. Eventually, they were able to transport the unidentified woman to safety.
She suffered a facial laceration, wrist and hip injuries and possibly a fractured nose while hiking, The Arizona Republic reported. According to Fox 10 in Phoenix, the spinning rescue only left her dizzy and a little nauseous.
None of the rescuers were injured.
Apolinar said the potential for spinning is a “known phenomenon” but remains a rare occurrence. During 210 rescues over the past six years in the area, it happened just twice.
“It’s not something that’s inherent to the basket or inherent to the bag,” he said. “It’s just something that occurs every now and then and we train to deal with it.”