AUBURN -- A pair of California Highway Patrol Air Operations officers and a Truckee firefighter received a prestigious award this month for a skillful helicopter hoist rescue.
CHP Pilot Monty Emery and CHP paramedic Mathew Calcutt based out of Auburn and Truckee firefighter Dave Fichter received a Higgins and Langley Memorial Award for Swift Water Rescue.
The honor recognizes "preparedness, teamwork, and a job well done, sometimes under extreme conditions, where training is vital to the success of rescue missions, as well as the safety of rescue personnel," according to the awards' website.
The trio rescued a swimmer stranded in the Emerald Pools area of the Yuba River in June 2017. The swimmer, Kalani Tuiono of Reno, was stuck on a rock in the middle of the rushing river when the crew hoisted him to safety.
"It just required a lot of precision and teamwork to work together between the pilot and flight officer coordinating positioning," said CHP flight officer and paramedic Jared Boothe, who works with Emery and Calcutt. "And then we relied on the firefighter, Dave Fichter, to actually put the swimmer into the rescue device... and effect the rescue."
Area rivers are swift and cold right now, similar to the conditions at the time of last year's rescue.
"So if people even go so shallow as knee deep in water, they can be swept off their feet and downstream," Officer Booth cautioned.
In a conversation with FOX40 following his rescue last year, Tuiono said, "Tell everyone you love about these rivers and how dangerous they are because they really are no joke."
Tuiono commented on a recent Facebook post about the Higgins and Langley Award, crediting those rescuers with saving his life.
The CHP air operations crews have performed multiple rescues in recent weeks. In addition to urging caution in the rivers, they recommend that hikers carry GPS beacons that can send a distress signal where there is no cell service.