304th Rescue Squadron supports Mount Hood search, rescue

  • Published
  • By 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
  • 920th Rescue Wing

An 11-member Guardian Angel team from the 304th Rescue Squadron battled high winds and deep snow to assist with the rescue efforts of two injured climbers on Mount Hood March 7.

A multi-team search-and-rescue mission was conducted in challenging conditions after two climbers fell approximately 200 feet in the Leuthold Couloir area.

The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center received a request from the Clackamas County Sherriff’s office for the 304th RQS to assist with ground recovery in coordination with the Oregon Army Air National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve. Rescuers faced deep snow and other rough conditions including avalanche conditions with winds blowing between 50-70 mph.

“We had the entire squadron training in Portland when the call came in, so we had the best qualified and experienced Airmen ready for this search and rescue mission,” said the 304th RQS team lead. “Our special mission personnel have the high altitude, cold weather and medical training we perform daily that prepared us to assist.”

All pararescue Airmen are nationally certified paramedics. They participate in mountain and industrial rescue courses with a focus on learning to rig systems to safely handle rescue loads, personnel and equipment.

“Austere environments are where PJs are trained to operate,” said a pararescueman assisting with the recovery. “High altitude, jungle, desert; we train for every scenario possible, but in the end, it is all about getting help to those who need it.”

Under the Defense Support for Civilian Authorities guidelines, United States military assets and personnel, in specific circumstances, can be used to assist civil authorities during emergencies and other specific events when a situation requires the skill set a military unit has, such as in this case with the pararescue team.

The 304th RQS is part of the 943rd Rescue Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, a geographically separated unit within the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida.