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Summer season sees more rescues in remote areas of Colorado

Flight for Life crews had to make multiple trips out of Rocky Mountain National Park over the weekend.

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Colorado is in the busiest time of year for the pilots responsible for saving people stuck in dangerous spots. Flight for Life crews made multiple flights to Rocky Mountain National Park on rescues this weekend. 

On Saturday, Aug. 12, a 21-year-old female died and a 25-year-old man was seriously injured after falling about 300 feet while descending in the Flying Dutchman couloir. 

On Friday, Aug. 11, a 64-year-old man fell about 60 feet above the Ledges on Longs Peak. 

Flight for Life transferred the injured to a hospital.

"It's probably the worst day of their lives and we are there to help them," said Nobu Saga, a pilot. 

He works out of the station at St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood. Most of his transports are between hospitals, but he also helps with rescues in very remote areas, like deep in Rocky Mountain National Park. 

"Any call we take to the west you are immediately up in 10,000 feet and all the way up to 14,000 foot peaks up there," Saga said. 

The space inside the helicopter is small. It's just big enough for a pilot, medic and patient. It's small on purpose because of the high altitude. 

"For us we typically prefer to have a smaller airframe that is more nimble and capable so it's kind of a sports car," Saga said. 

Within the past few years Flight for Life has added mountain training because flying in these conditions is unique and dangerous. Jeff Girouard manages the helicopter pilots.

"This is a challenging place to fly, one of the most challenging places in the country," Girouard said. 

Medical care starts inside the helicopter, and pilots hope they can fly to more doctors in enough time.

"The patient goes from the helipad to one elevator ride to the operating room," said Saga. 

Flight for Life also does avalanche training starting in the fall with rescue dogs. Ski resorts bring their avalanche dogs for different exercises.


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