Two-way communication crucial to Air National Guard rescuing injured snowmachiner

  • Published
  • By David Bedard,
  • 176th Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Alaska Air National Guardsmen rescued an injured snowmachiner Nov. 6 near Livengood, about 40 miles north of Fairbanks.

The uninjured member of the two-member snowmachine party used a satellite phone to call the Alaska State Troopers. Due to severe weather, the troopers asked for help from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The AKRCC requested assistance from the 176th Wing, which dispatched a 210th Rescue Squadron Detachment 1 HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter with 212th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel pararescuemen (PJs). Detachment 1 stands alert at Eielson Air Force Base, while the remainder of the 176th Wing rescue enterprise is at JBER.

The HH-60 crew flew to the injured snowmachiner’s location, and the special missions aviator lowered the PJs via hoist. The PJs prepared the injured snowmachiner to be hoisted into the helicopter and evacuated to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

Alaska Air National Guard Master Sgt. Katelyn Biermann, AKRCC senior mission controller, credited the party for carrying a satellite communication device.

“Because the injured party was carrying a cell phone, our office was able to verify their exact location and injuries so we could pass it to the aircrew,” Biermann said. “Being prepared with a two-way communication device is essential for back-country adventures in Alaska.”

For the mission, the 210th RQS, 212th RQS and the AKRCC received credit for one save.