“Take up slack,” directs the voice over the radio. “Okay. Clear to lift.”
These are the words of Officer Paramedic Matt Calcutt of CHP Helicopter H-20 stationed at Auburn airport.
It’s Sunday around 2pm, and Calcutt is attempting to pluck a woman off Donner Summit.
The 47-year-old woman in the basket at the end of his rope is from Fair Oaks, and she’s hurt. Her ATV slipped off-trail and she tumbled 50 to 100 feet downhill.
“She was wearing a bicycle helmet and during a roll-over with a motor vehicle, obviously that’s not going to be sufficient. That bicycle helmet broke into many different pieces,” Calcutt said.
The terrain at Donner Summit was too steep for ground crews to be effective. The woman has a head injury, and needs treatment as soon as possible.
“We had to close down the railroad tracks. We would have been too close if a train were to come by,” Calcutt said.
The woman was eventually lifted into the CHP helicopter, and then flown to Truckee Airport, where another helicopter carried her to a trauma center in Reno.