JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON â€” Alaska Guardsmen with Army Aviation Operating Facility 2, located in Bethel, rescued an elderly man at a remote cabin near Emmonak, March 12.
The AAOF-2 was contacted at 4:30 p.m. by the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center after the Alaska State Troopers requested assistance with the transport of a man who had collapsed while ice-fishing, according to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul Jones, the facility commander of AAOF-2, Alaska Army National Guard.
“The man was with a group of people ice fishing and collapsed,” Jones said. “They got back to their camp and managed to get a call out. The Village Public Safety Officer there was on the scene relaying information back to us.”
The AAOF-2 launched a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the Bethel facility with a team of three medical personnel from LifeMed aboard. Jones said LifeMed has no helicopter in Bethel.
With a grid coordinate to the location of the camp provided by the Alaska RCC, the Black Hawk crew flew to Emmonak, located approximately 130 miles northwest of Bethel, explained Jones. When they were 30 miles out from their destination, they were able to make voice communications with the VPSO.
“He told us they were lighting a signal fire, which we used to find their exact location,” Jones said.
After the Black Hawk landed, the medics took their equipment into the cabin to assess the patient, said Jones. Once they determined that the man was stable, they prepared him for transport, loaded him onto the Black Hawk and flew him back to Bethel.
They returned to the Bethel airport at approximately 7:30 p.m., where the man was transported via ambulance to the Bethel hospital in stable condition.
“Thanks to the accurate information, great communication and quick thinking of the VPSO on scene, our mission was a straight-forward success,” Jones said. “For us in the Guard here in Bethel, being a part of the community, working with all of the local entities in the villages, and serving the people throughout the Yukon Delta and Alaska is what it is all about. We are proud to be a part of it all, and that is what we live for.”