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NEWS | Aug. 9, 2021

Alaska Air National Guard rescues hiker near Glacier Pass

By Senior Airman Kelly Willett, Alaska National Guard Public Affairs

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – The Alaska Air National Guard rescued a hiker in distress near Glacier Pass Aug. 6.

The distressed hiker was one in a group of seven. After the hiker began experiencing distress, a fellow hiker activated the personal locator beacon they were carrying and made a cellphone call to Alaska State Troopers.

The Alaska State Trooper Search and Rescue coordinator contacted the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center around 7:30 p.m. to ask for help.

“Cloud cover and terrain precluded initial rescue efforts by a civilian medical evacuation company, so the AK RCC coordinated the dispatch of a hoist capable, [HH-60G] Pave Hawk from the 176th Wing,” said Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Josh Lester, AK RCC senior search and rescue controller.

The medical and terrain information provided to AST was critical for the 210th Rescue Squadron Pave Hawk crew and the 212th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel pararescue team on board.

“Understanding the nature of the injury or medical condition and the terrain surrounding the hiking party helps us decide which rescue assets to dispatch and which medical teams to have on board,” Lester said.

The Pave Hawk crew navigated through the weather to the hiking party’s location. The pararescue team provided field care and hoisted the patient into the Pave Hawk for transport to Matanuska-Susitna Valley area hospital.

The AK RCC stressed the importance of having a PLB and two-way satellite communications such as an InReach device or a satellite phone to communicate via text or voice, as cell phone coverage can be unreliable in Alaska.

For this rescue, the AK RCC, 210th RQS and 212th RQS were awarded one save.