JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — The Alaska Army National Guard helped rescue an injured man in Coffin Camp.
At about 5 a.m. May 16, the Guard’s 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment’s Army Aviation Operations Facility in Nome was contacted by the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center on JBER to pick up and transfer a man who had stepped on nails at a fishing camp west of Noorvik.
The injured man required assistance because his injuries, mixed with the difficult terrain that comprised flooded trails and a frozen river, rendered him unable to evacuate himself.
“He had been staying at his camp and was likely planning to leave when the river broke up,” said Alaska Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 3 Paul Jones, the pilot for the rescue mission, “He stayed there about a week after sustaining his injuries, but he ended up calling the village public safety officer (VPSO) for assistance because he didn’t want it to get to the point where he couldn’t help himself.”
The Noorvik VPSO contacted the Alaska State Troopers, who requested help from the AK RCC, and they delegated the rescue mission to the AAOF in Nome.
The UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter piloted by Jones departed Nome at 7:15 a.m. and landed in Noorvik at 9 a.m. to pick up the officer.
“The VPSO was picked up to help scout the area,” Jones said, “It gives us an advantage since he can use local knowledge.”
The aircraft left three minutes later for Coffin Camp, seven miles west of Noorvik, where the distressed individual was quickly located and picked up at 9:15 a.m. The UH-60 returned the VPSO to Noorvik and flew to Kotzebue, where the injured man was transported by ambulance to Maniilaq Health Center for treatment.