Alaska National Guard Airmen rescue hunter at national park
By David Bedard, 176th Wing
/ Published September 01, 2020
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – Alaska Air National Guard members of the 176th Wing rescued a hunter in distress Aug. 30 at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
Alaska Air National Guard Capt. Daniel Dickman, Alaska Rescue Coordination Center controller, said the hunter used a satellite communication device to signal distress. The call was relayed through a national call center to the National Park Service, which requested assistance from the AKRCC.
The AKRCC notified the 176th Wing, which dispatched a 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter and a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II, both carrying 212th Rescue Squadron pararescuemen (PJs).
Aircrew of the 210th and 211th RQS are trained in day or night personnel recovery operations in challenging weather and environmental conditions. PJs of 212th RQS are highly trained search-and-rescue experts and paramedics with advanced mountaineering skills.
The HH-60 aircrew navigated to the hunter’s location. The PJs were able to get to the hunter and use a rescue strop harness to extricate the hunter. The HH-60 twice conducted aerial refueling operations with the HC-130 during the mission.
The hunter was released to National Park Service EMTs at Slana Ranger Station in the park.
Dickman commended the hunter for carrying and properly using a satellite communication device while hunting in an area with no cell service. He cautioned hunters and hikers to be prepared for unexpected weather.
“Plan for the worst,” he said. “Even if you’re just going for a day hike, expect to get stuck in weather. Pack a waterproof and windproof jacket, an extra pair of pants, and a poncho or ‘bivy’ cover.”
For this rescue, 210th RQS, 211th RQS, 212th RQS and AKRCC were awarded one save.