Alaska Air National Guard rescues injured hunter on mountain

  • Published
  • By David Bedard
  • 176th Wing

Alaska Air National Guardsmen of the 176th Wing rescued a hunter who was critically injured in a 100-foot fall Sept. 6 near the Eagle River Nature Center north of Anchorage.

Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Wesley Ladd, Alaska Rescue Coordination Center senior controller, said the hunter used a satellite communication device to contact the Alaska State Troopers who then contacted the AKRCC.

The AKRCC notified the 176th Wing, which dispatched a 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter carrying 212th Rescue Squadron pararescuemen, or PJs.

Aircrew of 210th Rescue Squadron are combat search and rescue Airmen highly capable in civil search and rescue missions in Alaska's challenging weather and terrain. PJs and combat rescue officers compose the Guardian Angel Weapon system of the 212th Rescue Squadron. They are elite special operators trained in technical rescue and are advanced-practice paramedics who employ on combat and civil search and rescue missions.

Navigating to the survivor through a windstorm, rain and limited visibility, the HH-60 aircrew accessed the base of the mountain 500 meters from the hunter's location. The aircrew landed and disembarked a CRO and two PJs who scaled 500 meters up the mountainside with their equipment to reach the survivor.

The Pave Hawk then returned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson for an additional PJ to aid in the technical rescue effort. The PJs and CRO on scene gained access, stabilized and packaged the survivor in a litter.

The team set up a technical rope belay system to lower the patient down the mountain and waded through Eagle River to the HH60. The patient and his hunting partner were transported to Providence Alaska Medical Center.

"This mission highlights the exceptional synergy of our rescue community," said Capt. Dan Warren, 212th RQS CRO and team commander for the ground rescue effort. “The Alaska State Troopers provided critical info, 176th Maintenance (Group) personnel rapidly prepared the helicopter for flight, the helicopter crew navigated harsh weather to employ us, and the unmatched resolve of fellow PJs to overcome brutal terrain to save a life is a humbling endeavor. The team effort is what enables our success."

Ladd commended the hunter for carrying and properly using a satellite communication device while hunting and said the Alaska wilderness should never be underestimated.

"Even close to a city, cold and wet conditions can lead to injury, especially with challenging terrain," he said. "Have a plan and carry a satellite communication device for if you need to call for help."