JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Alaska Air National Guard HC-130J Combat King II aircrew provided refueling and weather navigation to expedite the medevac of a critical patient by HH-60G Pave Hawk Jan. 21 at Anaktuvuk Pass approximately 414 miles north of Anchorage.
On the morning of Jan. 21, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital sent a support request via LifeMed Alaska to Alaska Rescue Coordination Center to medevac a patient in critical condition from Anaktuvuk Pass. The hospital made the request after poor flying weather prohibited LifeMed from reaching the patient.
Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Ryan Wiese, 176th Operations Group search and rescue duty officer, said the group accepted the mission and asked for a weather report from the 3rd Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight.
“We requested a weather 9-line, reviewed the conditions enroute to the pass, and identified multiple route options,” Wiese said.
Traveling hundreds of nautical miles through multiple Alaska mountain ranges in January can prove unpredictable, Wiese said. After accepting the mission, the 176th Wing dispatched a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J and a 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter with a 212th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel team on board both aircraft.
The HH-60 crew reached the patient and transported him to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage where he was released to medical personnel.
Without HC-130 support, the HH-60 aircrew would have needed to land for fuel, Wiese said, thereby increasing the time until the patient could receive care. Additionally, the weather ruled out landing at several possible refueling locations, creating a longer route and causing additional delay for the patient.
“The Combat King was vital to the success of this mission,” Wiese said. “Pave Hawk aircrew were able to fly a more direct route to Anaktuvuk as they received fuel and weather [reconnaissance] support from King.”