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    U.S. Army helicopter unit conducts rescue near Chicken, Alaska

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    CHICKEN, ALASKA, UNITED STATES

    07.27.2023

    Story by Capt. Kyle Abraham 

    16th Combat Aviation Brigade

    FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – Soldiers assigned to Charlie Company, 1-52 General Support Aviation Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade performed an aeromedical evacuation of a civilian near Chicken, Alaska on Jul. 27, 2023.

    The mission started when a husband became concerned about his wife’s medical condition after she experienced a seizure, which led him to send a distress message to local authorities. After determining that ground rescue would not be possible over the terrain the patient was located at, federal support was requested through the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center for a high-powered helicopter with hoist capability to recover the patient.

    At 2:37 p.m., a U.S. Army UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter departed Fort Wainwright for the patient’s reported location approximately ten miles north of Chicken, Alaska. The aircrew arrived at the location of the patient at 4:00 p.m.

    “Upon reaching the reported location, a remote cabin in a valley, we circled the property and tried to find a place to land. We couldn’t find anywhere large enough and close enough to the structure so, in the interest of the patient, we hoisted our Flight Paramedic [Staff Sgt. Beau McIntosh] down about 50 feet into a creek bed and relocated to a landing site farther down the creek,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Matzdorf, the pilot in command of the mission.

    The aircrew landed a mile away to conserve fuel while the flight medic on the ground assessed the patient and prepared her for transport, but further assistance was needed.

    “After about five minutes the patient’s husband drove up in his [utility terrain vehicle] and said that the flight paramedic sent him to get more help, so we sent our crew chief [Spec. Austin Upchurch] with him to the cabin. Thirty minutes later I saw the husband driving back to the aircraft with the patient on a litter on the back with McIntosh and Upchurch keeping it balanced,” Matzdorf said.

    After the patient was secured in the aircraft, she was transported to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and the aircrew returned to Fort Wainwright. The aircrew had to maneuver around several plumes of wildfire smoke to complete the rescue.

    “Our Soldiers are faced with non-military missions like this over a dozen times a year,” Capt. Eli Arnold, Charlie Company commander, said. “Up here in the remote Alaskan wilderness we are not only training to save lives while under enemy fire, but we are also doing real-world battle with the environment. Our crews are among the best in the world at what they do and I’m proud to lead them.”

    The unit is based out of Fort Wainwright in central Alaska. The unit operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide aeromedical evacuation support for thousands of service members training at Fort Wainwright each year.

    Additionally, the unit works with the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center and local emergency services to provide rescue coverage in northern Alaska’s remote wilderness areas.

    This life-saving mission is a collaborative effort: As the only active-duty Army aeromedical evacuation unit in Alaska, every member of the team is vital to the mission.

    The 16th Combat Aviation Brigade operates two aeromedical evacuation units that provide defense support to civil authorities: U.S. Army Air Ambulance Detachment-Yakima in central Washington and Charlie Company, 1-52 General Support Aviation Battalion in central Alaska.

    ***

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 07.27.2023
    Date Posted: 08.02.2023 18:59
    Story ID: 450565
    Location: CHICKEN, ALASKA, US

    Web Views: 114
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN