Alaska Air National Guard rescues plane crash, car accident victims in single sortie

Oct. 19, 2023

ELT

Alaska Air National Guardsmen of the 176th Wing medically evacuated a victim of a car accident in Seward before rescuing two victims of a plane crash in Southcentral Alaska Oct. 7.

Providence Medical Group contacted the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center and requested medical evacuation of a victim of a car crash in Seward. Civilian air ambulances couldn’t fly due to severe weather.

The AKRCC then requested assistance from 176th Wing, and the on-duty search and rescue duty officer, Alaska Air National Guard Lt. Col. Kirby Chacon, dispatched a 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter with 212th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel pararescuemen (PJs) onboard.

The crew of the HH-60 flew to the Providence Seward Medical Center where they prepared to evacuate the patient.

Alaska Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Jared Isaacson, 212th RQS PJ, said he and his fellow PJ on the mission were working against the clock.

“Time is critical with injuries in this case,” he said. “We needed to get her to surgery fast, but we wanted to ensure she was stable enough for the flight. We had to stabilize her blood pressure before we felt comfortable moving her and we had to make sure our monitors were reading the same thing as the hospital’s.”

Isaacson said he enlisted the help of Seward nurse, Lauren Cannon, to fly with the patient to ensure continuity of care.

“She was a very critical, challenging patient,” he said. “We had to balance the patient’s level of sedation, airway, and her blood pressure throughout the evacuation. We had four different IV drips going. She was vented, intubated, and we also had her on a heart monitor and were administering oxygen as well. Between the three of us there was a lot of work to do.”

The HH-60 evacuated the patient to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage where she was released to medical staff.

Once complete with the medevac, the HH-60 crew and 212th RQS PJs immediately pivoted to the next mission of rescuing two victims of a plane crash.

A Piper PA-18 crashed about 65 miles west of Anchorage in the vicinity of Beluga Lake, automatically triggering the Super Cub’s onboard 406 Emergency Locator Transmitter.

Chacon retasked the returning 210th RQS HH-60 to the crash site. He had previously dispatched a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II aircraft, also with 212th RQS Guardian Angels onboard, to search for the crashed PA-18, which they found.

The helicopter landed at the crash site, and the PJs loaded the uninjured Super Cub occupants into the Pave Hawk.

Chacon credited the two for being prepared to wait for rescue.

“The pilot and passenger had sleeping bags, so they were prepared to spend the night, which was a good thing,” Chacon said.

Alaska Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Jeff Hamilton, AKRCC superintendent, noted that the aircraft having a 406-MHz emergency locator transmitter was critical as the single means of notification of the incident.

“A properly registered 406 MHz ELT and two-way satellite communications device are both critical to getting help when things go wrong in the Alaska bush,” he said.

For the two missions, 210th RQS, 212th RQS and the AKRCC received credited for three saves and the 211th RQS was credited with two saves.

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