Two 15-year-olds on a snowmachine called in to MATCOM dispatch at 10:44 pm on Friday night and requested help as they had driven their machine into a pond in a remote area and could not get out.
The teens in distress reported via cell phone that they were approximately three miles away from the nearest trail in the Baldy Mountain area and were in chest-deep snow. They also reported that they had no survival gear. After the notification, AST notified the Rescue Coordination Center at JBER and AKRCC accepted the mission.
“The AKRCC immediately coordinated with the 176th Operations Group search and rescue duty officer to dispatch a 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter with a 212th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel team comprising two pararescuemen onboard,” AKRCC said.
Snow and fog limited visibility so the HH-60G utilized light along the Glenn Highway to navigate to the location. The stranded teens were asked to activate their cell phone flashlights at approximately four miles out.
“We were able to locate the survivors with precision and speed once they turned their lights on,” said Maj. Tyler Seibold, HH-60G aircraft commander. “A flashlight, or even a lighter, can be seen two or more miles out with night vision goggles.”
The teens were located deep in a ravine 1,500 feet up Bald Mountain in tundra brush and chest-deep in snow.
“Weather allowed us the option to hover at a slight offset to minimize rotor wash,” Seibold said. “While the left SMA made sure we were clear of the mountain, the right SMA directed the hoist to ensure the pararescuemen and the patient remained clear of trees. Our SMAs are truly invaluable to safe operations in complex terrain.”
The Pararescue team dropped down 80 feet on a hoist to the teens and they were hoisted back up to the Pavehawk. They were provided en-route care and transported to the Mat Su Regional Hospital where a medical team and their parents were waiting.