Airmen rescue two injured snowmachine riders after collision, help stroke victim

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

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Alaska Air National Guard rescue personnel of the 176th Wing medically evacuated a stroke victim from Bethel March 30 before rescuing two injured snowmachine riders near Ruby the same day.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation requested assistance from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center to medevac a stroke victim when foul weather prevented civilian air ambulances from responding. The request was forwarded to the 176th Wing search and rescue duty officer, who dispatched a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II carrying Guardian Angel pararescuemen (PJs) of the 212th Rescue Squadron.

The HC-130 picked up the patient in Bethel and transported him to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, with the PJs providing in-transit medical care. At JBER, the patient was transferred to a civilian ambulance for transport to an Anchorage hospital.

After two snowmachiners were injured in a collision near Ruby about 175 miles west of Fairbanks on the Yukon River, the snowmachine party activated an SOS signal on their satellite communication device. Alaska State Troopers requested help from the AKRCC, which forwarded the request to the 176th Wing. The duty officer dispatched the HC-130 and a 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk, both with GA PJs on board.  

The HC-130 refueled the HH-60 in the air during the mission to extend the helicopter’s range. The helicopter landed near the snowmachine party, and the PJs stabilized the patients before loading them into the Pave Hawk for transport to JBER. They were transferred to a civilian ambulance and taken to an Anchorage hospital.

Air National Guard Col. Joshua Armstrong, 176th Operations Group commander, said the back-to-back missions showcased the capabilities of the Rescue Triad of the 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons.

“The King crew worked a long day flying both missions, and Jolly (the Pave Hawk) had to navigate mountain passes in bad weather for more than a 600-mile round trip,” Armstrong said. “From the mission planning of the RCC to King providing weather reconnaissance for Jolly and PJs providing critical patient care, the Rescue Triad demonstrated we are always ready and always there when our fellow Alaskans need us the most.”

For the two missions, 211th RQS, 212th RQS and the AKRCC received credit for three saves, and 210th RQS received credit for two saves.