"These Things We Do That Others May Live" 

Alaska is huge. It is more than one-fifth the size of the entire continental United States, with more miles of coastline than the other 49 states combined. If overlaid onto a map of the United States, with the eastern tip of the Alaska Panhandle grounded to the Atlantic Ocean, its western tip (at the end of the Aleutian Islands) would stretch to the coast of California.

Because of its sheer size and varied geography, search-and-rescue (SAR) operations in Alaska are carried out by several different agencies -- the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing, the United States Coast Guard, the National Park Service, the Alaska State Troopers and the Civil Air Patrol, for example.

Coordinating the efforts of these various agencies are the highly trained men and women of the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, a unit of the 176th Wing located in a small, high-tech facility on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. These guard members, most of them full-timers, work in shifts around the clock, 365 days a year, monitoring Alaska's skies and responding to distress calls. Working under the guidance of the National SAR Plan [.pdf], they are responsible for all aeronautical SAR cases, both military and civilian.

The RCC's mission is to locate and recover downed military and civilian aircrew personnel in Alaska as quickly and safely as possible. A secondary responsibility is to provide SAR assistance to state and federal agencies responsible for conducting ground searches for distressed individuals in the harsh arctic environment.

As the staff agency for SAR-related matters for the 11th Air Force and Alaskan Command (ALCOM) Headquarters, RCC personnel also provide vital expertise and information to ensure the command makes the best possible decisions on SAR issues.


The commander of the RCC reports directly to leadership of the 176th Wing.


Emergency long-distance: 1-800-420-7230
Local (both emergency and non-emergency): 551-7230

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