Alaska Air National Guard Airmen transport woman in labor
By David Bedard, 176th Wing
/ Published January 04, 2021
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – Alaska Air National Guardsmen of the 176th Wing evacuated a pregnant woman experiencing medical complications on Dec. 15, transporting her from the village of Newtok to Bethel.
Alaska Air National Guard Capt. Brent Kramer, a senior controller at the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, said the Alaska State Troopers requested military assistance after civilian aircraft couldn’t evacuate her due to challenging stormy winter weather and prolonged darkness.
The AKRCC assessed the situation and requested assets from the 176th Wing, which launched a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II and a 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter carrying two pararescuemen (PJs) from 212th Rescue Squadron.
The HC-130 conducted air-to-air refueling with the HH-60, allowing the helicopter to make the nearly 500-mile nonstop transit from Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson to Newtok. Between refueling missions, the crew of the HC-130 carried out a reconnaissance of the route to guide the Pave Hawk through deteriorating weather.
Volunteers in the village on the west coast of Alaska transported the patient via snowmachine to the Newtok airstrip, where they met the helicopter. The patient was flown about 115 miles to the Bethel Airport and an ambulance from the Bethel Fire Department.
Kramer credits the interagency partnership between the Alaska Air National Guard, the Alaska State Troopers, civilian medical personnel and the Bethel Fire Department, and the cooperation with the three rescue squadrons and the AKRCC for the success of the mission.
“It was good to get a chance to collaborate with our state partners and to see the work of the rescue community turn into a good outcome for the patient,” he said.
For this rescue, 210th RQS, 211th RQS, 212th RQS and AKRCC were awarded one save.