ANCHORAGE, Alaska — When a bear attacked and severely injured a hunter Monday about 75 miles west of Galena, Alaska State Troopers called the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, a unit manned by Air Guardsmen at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, for assistance.
Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Andrew Williams, the center’s deputy director, said in a base press release that the RCC dispatched an HC-130J Combat King II from the 211th Rescue Squadron and an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th RQS.
On board the Combat King was a Guardian Angel team, consisting of a combat rescue officer and a pararescueman from the 212th Rescue Squadron at JBER. They were carrying blood and plasma provided by Providence Alaska Medical Center In Anchorage, the state’s largest hospital, which would prove critical to the rescue, Williams said.
A 35-year-old Alaska Army National Guard soldier from Fort Greely died when he fell into the Copper River while dipnetting for salmon.
When they arrived on scene, about 340 miles west of JBER, the hunter’s companion was in touch with a civilian aircraft circling overhead. The Guardian Angel team parachuted from the Combat King, then hiked to the site of the attack, where they administered life-saving care.
Once the victim was stabilized and moved, the Pave Hawk picked up the hunters and the rescue team and flew to Galena for immediate care. The victim was then flown to Elmendorf-Richardson, where they were met by soldiers from the Alaska Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, who loaded the patient onto an HH-60 Black Hawk helicopter for the short trip to Providence Alaska Medical Center.
“This was an amazing effort by all parties involved,” Williams said in the news release. “It exemplified the intricacies of rescue operations in the state and the interoperability between Army and Air National Guard as well as the Alaska State Troopers.