BFD offered assistance in helicopter rescue
As the tones rang out on county scanners, spreading the news of a helicopter crash on Bald Knob Thursday evening, volunteers with the Bartow-Frank-Durbin fire department sprang into action to offer their assistance.
"When we received the call, we reported to the station to make a plan," BFD Chief Buster Varner said. "Assistant Chief John Ford and Assistant Deputy Chief Philip Doolittle went to the Observatory [NRAO], where the command center was set up, to take our rescue tools there."
Varner explained that he was faxed a map of where the crash was, but he later realized it was the wrong location. Durbin resident and avid bear hunter Wally Sparks showed Varner the area on his GPS system to give him a better idea of the location.
"We went to Cheat Mountain with two bulldozers and a grader from the state road to make a path into the site from that direction," Varner said. "We got within three miles of the crash when I was told by Melvin Martin to stop and that they were all going in from the Snowshoe end."
Although Varner and his men were prepared to continue to the site, they followed orders and went back to the station in Durbin.
"We were willing to do whatever it takes, quitting is not an option, but we also follow orders," Varner said.
BFD sent their ambulances to the Shavers Fork Bridge to meet the rescue team as passengers of the helicopter were brought down from the crash site.
Along with the bulldozers and grader, BFD also had five snowmobiles trying to get to the site. Varner said he had around 27 members helping with the rescue.