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Alaska Air Guardsmen rescue woman at Port Alsworth


An Alaska Air National Guard HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron flies on a training flight in Southcentral Alaska. The hoist capabilities of the Pave Hawk helicopters provide the rescue assets with the ability to conduct rescue missions in rugged terrain.

U.S. Air National Guard file photo by Master Sgt. Sean Mitchell/Released

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons rescued a 39-year-old woman with respiratory distress at Port Alsworth, 180 miles west of Anchorage at the western end of Lake Clark Pass this morning.

According to the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, EMTs from the U.S. National Park Service and Port Alsworth Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call from the distressed woman at her private residence at approximately 10:30 p.m. yesterday.

The EMTs were joined by two additional emergency trauma technicians on scene. The medical personnel reported the woman was having respiratory distress and couldn’t preserve her airway. She was medically unstable and a medical evacuation was necessary.

“The EMTs and ETTs were in contact with an Anchorage-based physician,” said Megan Richotte, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve chief of interpretation. “It’s standard protocol to coordinate with medical control when we are making big decisions about transport, particularly air ambulance or the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center.

The Alaska RCC was contacted by LifeMed at approximately 12:30 a.m. to request help from the Alaska Air National Guard because no other assets were available to fly the mission.

“LifeMed, Life Flight and Guardian Flight declined to transport due to weather, distances over water and other ongoing mission tasks,” said Capt. John Romspert, senior controller with the RCC. “Additionally, the Port Alsworth airstrip is an unlit gravel strip, which fixed wing assets cannot land on at night.”

The Air Guard accepted the mission and at approximately 12:50 a.m., dispatched an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron and an HC-130 King aircraft from the 211th Rescue Squadron, each with a team of Guardian Angel pararescuemen from the 212th Rescue Squadron on board.

After arriving on scene, pararescuemen carried the woman onto the helicopter and transported her to Iliamna where the HC-130 was able to land.

“Because of the distance and level of care the patient needed, the Guardsmen transloaded the woman on the HC-130 to get her to Anchorage faster,” said Romspert. “They then flew her to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson where she was released to an awaiting ambulance that transported her to Providence Alaska Medical Center around 6 a.m.” 

For this mission, the 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons were awarded with one save.


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