Police helicopter helps avert tragedy

Man got lost looking to water cows

A local man who ventured into heavy-duty bush in East End Friday to find well water for his cattle had to be pulled from the area in a daring aerial rescue by Royal Cayman Islands Police officers.

According to the RCIPS, the guy walked into the bush in Colliers near Gun Bay and quickly lost his way.

Luckily, he had a cell phone with him and called 911 for help.

Police dispatched the helicopter with the Air Operations team on board.

“The man continued to speak to the emergency operator via his cellphone, describing his point of entry to the bush and the route he thought he had taken,” according to an RCIPS press release. “The man was located on the ironshore, approximately a mile from the main road, but due to the density of the bush, he was unable to find his way back to the road.”

The helicopter couldn’t land anywhere near where the man was located, police said. However, some recent search and rescue training undertaken by the Air Operations crew came in handy.

“[The pilot] hovered about three feet from the ground while his tactical flight officer donned a safety harness,” police said. “The [officer] assisted the man safely onto the skids and then maneuvered him into the helicopter.”

Although the man was tired and dehydrated, police said he refused medical treatment when they took him back to the East End play field where the helicopter landed and dropped the man into the care of local officers waiting there to take him home.

RCIPS Air Operations Commander Steve Fitzgerald said it was lucky the man brought a cell phone with him.

“He was able to raise the alarm quickly,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “That, combined with the training of the crew, ensured that he was located within a very short period of time, thus preventing what could have been yet another tragedy in the East End bush.”

In early June 2011, Cayman’s police, fire and rescue personnel combined in an unorthodox attempt to save a young visitor from Indiana who collapsed in the heat. 

Despite their best efforts, the 21-year-old man, who had arrived on Grand Cayman as a volunteer with the Blue Iguana Recovery programme, was pronounced dead at the Cayman Islands Hospital.  He was identified as Daniel Hamilton, a student at Purdue University. 

The rescue attempt included fire and ambulance workers trekking through about two miles of bush land while carrying stretchers and other equipment to reach the man, who was believed to be suffering from hyperthermia (heat stroke). The bush was so thick that emergency vehicles could not be driven into the area. 

Medical personnel stabilised the man while the Royal Cayman Islands Police helicopter was called out to attempt to pick him up.  

In this case, firefighters used machetes and a chainsaw to clear trees and bush to create an area large enough for the chopper to touch down. The man was then carried to the helicopter to be transported to hospital.  Sadly, they could not save his life.


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  1. Interesting and informative reportlng on the man who was rescued by the RCIPS helicopter crew which did a commendable job. However, I would like to know why the name of the man was not published. Was this at his request or the papers decided not to for certain reasons?

  2. And how much easier and safer would this have been the the police had bought the correct helicopter, one with a winch?
    The heli cost millions yes in this case it saved a life but it could of also saved Daniel’s.
    This heli could have been so much more, floats and a winch then it could serve as a proper emergency services tool, not just a police toy.