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124th ASOS ascends new heights during rescue training

Special warfare tactical air control party Airmen from the 124th Air Support Operations Squadron along with two A-10 Thunderbolt II’s from the 190th Fighter Squadron conduct cliffside search and rescue training with members of the Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue team and the Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Four from North Island Naval Air Station, California, in McCall, Idaho, August 13, 2020. The training included the search and rescue of stranded individuals, followed by their aerial extraction with the HSC-4’s MH-60S Seahawk helicopters. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Joseph R. Morgan)

Special warfare tactical air control party Airmen from the 124th Air Support Operations Squadron along with two A-10 Thunderbolt II’s from the 190th Fighter Squadron conduct cliffside search and rescue training with members of the Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue team and the Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Four from North Island Naval Air Station, California, in McCall, Idaho, August 13, 2020. The training included the search and rescue of stranded individuals, followed by their aerial extraction with the HSC-4’s MH-60S Seahawk helicopters. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Joseph R. Morgan)

BOISE, Idaho -- Special warfare tactical air control party Airmen from the 124th Air Support Operations Squadron, 124th Fighter Wing, participated in high angle rescue training, Aug.13, near Payette Lake, Idaho.

High angle is a broad field of rescue that includes extricating a person or equipment through vertical terrain they are unable to navigate themselves because of load or injury.

“It can be a vertical tower, a cliff or a steep section of hillside,” said Staff Sgt. Matt Phillips, a joint terminal attack controller in the 124th ASOS. “It can also include extricating someone from a high angle rooftop or grain silo. You’ll even see us use these tactics for livestock stuck in a sinkhole or ravine.”

Phillips said most people are surprised that a high angle rescue can be accomplished with very little equipment.

“Sometimes it’s as simple as having a single rope and tying it around a person’s waist with a team on the other end to pull them up a hill,” he said. “It can also get very technical and include specialized equipment and systems, but if you have critical thinking and problem-solving skills, you can come up with a solution no matter what the situation or what you have at your disposal.”

When it comes to training, Idaho provides an incomparable variety of terrain for high angle rescue scenarios.

“It’s a great place to learn because you get exposure to so many different environments and weather patterns,” said Phillips. “There are an infinite number of problems you can solve within just an hour drive of Boise.”

Not only does Idaho’s landscape provide optimal training grounds, but Chief Master Sgt. Mike Furman, chief enlisted manager of the 124th ASOS, said training in Idaho’s rural communities helps Airmen improve their skills and learn new techniques outside of their traditional training plans that are particularly valuable during search and rescue scenarios across the state.

“If any of (the civilian organizations) have an issue, no matter the time of day, it’s pretty awesome that the 124th ASOS can raise our hand to help with that,” Phillips said. “We’re always there, and as Guardsmen we’re always ready to help the state of Idaho when it needs us.”

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