The National Guard conducts mock 737 crash rescue

by Sophie Evan on February 7, 2013

Air Guard Chopper ready for rescue mission photo courtesy of Guy Hayes

The Alaska National Guard will be simulating a major search a rescue training exercise starting today and lasting through Saturday. So, if you hear helicopters and airplanes around Bethel toward the northwest, that is what’s happening. The Guard says the scenario will be of a simulated 737 plane crash in a remote area North west of Bethel.

Lieutenant Colonel Blake Getty’s, who is the commander for the 176th Wing Operations Group, says the training will be the first joint Alaska Air National Guard, and Alaska Army National Guard major search and rescue exercise. Adding that being prepard to rescue 25 to 50 lives in a remote region requires practice and coordination.

The scenario will start when the rescue center receives word of the simulated 737 crash, in a remote area, that is unaccessible by road for first responders. Brigadaire General Leon “Mike” Bridges says they would then send out a Guardian Angel team to assess the situation, before launching the coordinated rescue operation. Lieutentant Colonel Getty’s says they are the only Guard C-17 unit in the United States Air Force, doing combo drops from a C-17, due to Alaska’s inclement weather. Getty’s says the rest of the air force units are trained for single drops.

The Alaska Air National Guard’s C-130 Hercules and the U-S Air Force C-17 Globemaster will air drop pararescuemen, Alaska Army National Guardsman and equipment near the crash site. Getty’s says the C Company 1-297 recon and surveillance squadron will provide logistics and support to the medical team and they focus on patient care. A Pave Hawk and a H-C-130 King helicopter will be used to recover survivors.

The training is designed to include delays to test multiple scenarios, and a re-supply drop from the Coast Guard. Getty’s says their main goal is to test the arctic survival package over an extended amount of time to see if their food supplies, sleeping bags, and fuel for the heaters will work and last out in the freezing arctic wilderness.

The Guard hopes that the training will make each participant capable, sure and ready in the event of an emergency of this type. So, again the Air National Guard is conducting training exercises starting today through Saturday. Sophie Evan KYUK news.

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