Silver City, NM—In cooperation with the Gila National Forest and local, state, and federal Search and Rescue (SAR) personnel, the U.S. Air Force recently participated in an interagency meeting to share information on accessing the availability of aircraft resources on a state, geographical, and national basis to conduct human extractions (hoist/short-haul) for emergency evacuations.
“The goal of the meeting was to provide emergency response to the seriously injured, and to respond as quickly as possible to life threatening situations occurring on incidents,” said Brett Hartnett Angel/Thunder Exercise Director with the U.S. Air Force.
Hartnett added that the Pave Hawk (a U.S. Air Force twin turboshaft engine helicopter used for rescue operations) is equipped with a hoist to safely pull people up into the aircraft and quickly transport injured individuals during a SAR mission especially when the incident occurs on terrain difficult to access. Helicopter air crews on the Pave Hawks are equipped with night vision goggles and are available to operate around the clock.
Another aircraft used by the Air Force for emergency evacuations and SAR missions include the large HC-130s (extended-range). This aircraft is used to transport Air Force Guardian Angel pararescue personnel, who are nationally certified paramedics, to the incident site.
Aviation Manager Bob Madill with the Gila National Forest added, "The use of Air Force aircraft equipped with specialized technology is one of the many tools to successfully manage SAR missions. With the recent SAR incidents on the Forest, the U.S. Air Force aircraft support can definitely play a key role on future missions.”
The meeting took place at the Forest Service Aerial Fire Base located southwest of Hurley.