Inside the Gates: Mass casualty rescue training
The Alaska Air National Guard is known for its search and rescue efforts across the state. Whether it’s a stranded hiker or a lost hunter, the guard is ready no matter the circumstance.
"There’s definitely a partnership," pilot with the 211th rescue squadron Capt. Brent Kramer said. "We train to many different scenarios and our primary rescue vehicle in most circumstances will be the helo. However, we do have the capability that we've trained to, where we will do what we did today."
Kramer helps pilot the new HC-130J and the mission he’s referring to involves a calculated heavy equipment drop to airmen on the ground. It's part of a mass casualty evacuation to get as many injured airmen as possible out of enemy territory.
"Today we were simulating a mass casualty that the guardian angels on the ground were treating multiple injuries," Maj. George Geiges with the 563rd rescue group said. "Initially we flew over and we dropped them a resupply bundle. So I did the calculations to put that bundle where they needed it."
As a combat systems officer, Geiges was able to navigate the heavy bundle 25 yards away from the target or point of impact. His position in the HC-130J is right behind the pilots.
"As a CSO, we're data managers," Geiges said. "Being a rescue platform, we have many additional sensors and pieces of equipment that a standard C-130 doesn't have."
Combat systems officers are able to use optical sensors and infrared cameras. They have the ability to connect with survivor radios and locate them, calculate air drops, run fuel panels when refueling helicopters and refuel a recovery vehicle. They use data to make calculated drops.
"They’re calculating based on what they’re seeing with the weather, the winds, open altitude and down on the ground. They will calculate where they think we should release the drop at," Kramer said.
In this mission, the drop was for a mass casualty rescue. After the drop, the plane quickly landed and waited for the guardian angels to arrive with the wounded. Airmen role-playing injured victims were dressed in moulage — makeup and paints that gave a real impression of what their injures were. Some airmen were even given an IV of saline in the field for further training.
The 211th rescue squadron currently has many airmen deployed. Airmen from Arizona, New Mexico and the east coast are currently on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson helping out and training within the 176th Wing. Geiges is from the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tuscon.
"From the active duty standpoint we’re doing it a little more often," Geiges said. "But it's great to see the civil [search and rescue] side of things up here that I normally don't experience at Davis-Monthan."
The Alaska Air National Guard SAR is made up of a triad in the 176th Wing that includes the 210th, 211th and 212th rescue squadrons.
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