St. Paul-based specialty unit makes helicopter rescue near Boundary Waters

A helicopter rescue captured on camera showed first responders hanging from the chopper to save a man near the Boundary Waters.

The Minnesota Aviation Rescue Team, or MART, is the unit that conducted the rescue.

Based in St. Paul, made up of the St. Paul Fire Department and the State Patrol, MART saves lives from all over the state.

“It sounded like a 50-something male who had injured their back and was unable to exit a campground,” said St. Paul Fire Capt. Mike Aspnes of the most recent rescue. 

Aspnes and his teammate are the ones who hooked to the bottom of a State Patrol helicopter with the injured camper secured with them on their way to safety.

“We’re about 500 feet above the tree line going about 40 miles per hour,” Aspnes recalled of the rescue.

He said the camper is OK, and it’s been a busy summer for the MART team.

“Our call volume has been increasing in the summertime just due to the people camping in the remote areas,” Aspnes said.

There is a growing need for these carefully-crafted rescues from the Boundary Waters to wherever MART is needed statewide.

“It’s a great service for the entire state, just letting people know that this service exists is something I’m working on right now to make sure people are aware that we can make things safer for the victims and rescuers,” Aspnes said.

Victims rescued by MART are not charged like they are for other services like ambulances.