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Alaska Air National Guard rescues hiker at Hatcher Pass

By David Bedard | 176th Wing | Sept. 17, 2020

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – Members of the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing rescued an injured hiker Sept. 16 at Hatcher Pass.

Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Kevin Kelly, Alaska Rescue Coordination Center deputy director, said the hiker used a satellite communication device to contact Alaska State Troopers Sept. 15. Troopers 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 (PJs).

Due to challenging weather and poor visibility, they could not safely navigate to the hiker's location. The PJs were dropped off at Mint Hut, an A-frame shelter in Hatcher Pass. They then hiked toward the hiker's location before they had to bed down due to bad weather.

At first light Sept. 16, the PJs were able to get to the hiker and provide medical care before moving him to a location where another HH-60 could hoist the hiker and the PJs into the hovering aircraft.

The patient was transported to Providence Alaska Medical Center and released to medical personnel.

Kelly highlighted the importance of carrying a satellite communication device, and he also said it is important to be prepared for tough Alaska conditions.

"Any time you are hiking into Alaska back country, be prepared to stay overnight," he said. "You never know when the weather will turn on you, and it's important you are ready to stay warm and dry if the temperature drops and fall rains come."

For this rescue, 210th RQS, 212th RQS and AKRCC were awarded one save.