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NEWS | Dec. 30, 2014

Alaska Air Guard members rescue hypothermic snowmobiler

By Sgt. Edward Eagerton Alaska National Guard

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard's 210th and 212th Rescue Squadrons rescued a man near Petersville on Sunday after he became lost while riding a snowmachine.

The snowmobiler had become lost and contacted the Alaska State Troopers for help, according to Lt. Col. John Morse, deputy director of the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center. The AST then contacted the AK-RCC for assistance.

"Our guys have the equipment and training to fly using night-vision devices," Morse said. "Because of this capability, we are often called upon to assist when rescue missions occur at night."

The AKANG accepted the mission at approximately 9:30 p.m. and launched an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron with a team of Guardian Angels from the 212th Rescue Squadron aboard, out of JBER.

Guardian Angels teams are highly trained medical personnel made up of a pararescuemen and a combat rescue officer who both specialize in conducting high-risk rescue missions.

"The HH-60 was able to fly directly to the man's location, because he had a GPS unit and provided the troopers with coordinates," Morse said. "When the helicopter arrived at the man's location, they spotted him standing atop a hill. They landed nearby, and then loaded the man onto the HH-60."

The man was hypothermic and flown to Providence Hospital in Anchorage, where he was released to medical personnel.

"When traveling out into the bush, one should always be prepared," Morse said. "That the man had the ability to communicate with the troopers and was able to provide his GPS coordinates greatly expedited his recovery. In our state especially, the scope of its size and the extreme nature of the environment can be very unforgiving. Of course, no matter what, we always have people on alert status in the event that our fellow Alaskans call on us in a time of need. Even during the holidays, our people are ready to save a life in a moment's notice."

For this mission, the 210th and 212th Rescue Squadrons were awarded with one save.