Alaska Air National Guard Airmen medevac two patients during harsh Alaska weather

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

Alaska Air National Guardsmen of the 176th Wing medically evacuated two patients this week in separate incidents during extreme weather conditions throughout much of Alaska.

The National Weather Service released several regional weather advisories ranging in scope from hurricane-force winds to blizzard white outs to freezing rain throughout the first week of the year.

Alaska Air National Guardsmen of 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons medevac’d a woman suffering a fall at Good News Bay Jan. 3, and they later rescued a man in medical distress at Tununak Jan. 5.

Good News Bay is about 115 miles south of Bethel, and Tununak is about 120 miles west of Bethel.

Alaska Air National Guard Lt. Col. Christen Brewer, Alaska Rescue Coordination Center director, said officials of the Kanakanak Community Health Clinic requested assistance for the woman who fell.

The 176th Wing launched a 210th RQS HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter and a 211th RQS HC-130J Combat King II rescue aircraft Dec. 30. Both aircraft had highly trained pararescue (PJs) Airmen of 212th RQS onboard. The aircraft was required to turn around due to severe weather conditions.

On Jan. 3, the 176th Wing issued a waiver, allowing the helicopter to fly around the violently turbulent weather in order to reach its destination.

The HH-60 landed at Good News Bay, disembarking two PJs who stabilized the patient before loading her onboard the Pave Hawk for evacuation to the Bethel Airport and transloaded her to the HC-130 for a more expedited flight to Anchorage.

The crew of the HC-130 transported the woman to JBER where she was transferred to an ambulance and taken to the Alaska Native Medical Center.

Late the next evening, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation officials of the requested assistance for the man in distress requiring medical evacuation.

The 176th Wing launched an HH-60 and an HC-130 with PJs on both aircraft early morning, Jan. 5, landed the HH-60 at Tununak Airport, and disembarked two PJs who stabilized the patient before loading him onboard the Pave Hawk for evacuation to the Bethel Airport. There, he was and transloaded on the HC-130, transported to JBER, and transported via ambulance to Providence Alaska Medical Center.

Brewer said Airmen of 176th Wing successfully medevac’d the patients despite challenging weather.

“Unfortunately, Western Alaska was experiencing extreme weather patterns for several days, and it delayed civilian and military response to the medevac requests,” she said. “The 176th Wing rescue triad was watching the weather closely and was ready to respond as soon as a weather window allowed.”

For these operations, 210th RQS, 211th RQS, 212th RQS and the AKRCC were awarded two saves, one for each mission.