DVIDS – News – Alaskan avalanche survivor meets, thanks Arctic Guardian rescue team
A week after graduating from high school, Peter Schutt was physically on top of the world as he climbed Donoho Peak near the Alaska / Canada border.
Unfortunately, Schutt’s adventure took a dangerous turn when an avalanche struck. The snow that was once a fixture on the icy face of the mountain suddenly loosened and turned into a freight train of cold, sweet crystals rushing in a swift, unstoppable motion.
Schutt said the avalanche knocked him over a 75-foot cliff as it fell 2,500 feet from the jagged face of the mountain. He remembers covering his head as best he could to avoid further injury.
After the avalanche, Schutt’s friend and hiking partner came down, contacted the National Park Service by cell phone, and provided the cell phone’s GPS coordinates to help rescue.
176 Wing Alaska Air National Guardsmen joined forces with several civilian search and rescue partners to rescue Schutt from the ordeal on May 26, 2021.
After weeks of recovery, Schutt, along with several members of his family, visited 176 Wing on July 9 to share his story, visit the plane involved in the rescue and thank his rescuers.
After Schutt’s fall, the National Park Service contacted the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center at 6:20 p.m. to advise them of the incident and request that a hoist-equipped aircraft be on standby. Snow conditions and steep terrain on Donoho prevented the National Park Service A-Star helicopter from reaching the injured hiker, and at 8:05 p.m., the NPS requested Air National Guard support.
“The patient lost his footing and rolled for hundreds of feet on a snowy slope near Donoho Peak in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, ”said NPS Ranger and Incident Commander Stephens Harper. “The fall triggered a snow slide, which then carried the patient off a cliff into a ravine.”
Schutt’s father, Aaron, was boarding a plane to Minnesota when he received the phone call that no parent wants to receive. He was told the fall was “not a survival incident”.
“This is what you don’t want to hear as a parent,” he recalls.
Wrangell Mountain Air, a private charter company, spotted Schutt, confirmed his position and relayed the GPS coordinates to the National Park Service who then relayed the information to the AK RCC.
With coordinates in hand, the AK RCC contacted the 176th Wing which dispatched an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron, a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II and a team from the 212th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel including rescue personnel (PJ).
The first responders from Kennicott Wilderness Guides, who are also Wrangell-St. Members of the Elias National Park and Preserve Search and Rescue team traveled a few kilometers to the ravine. They provided emergency medical care over the phone with the National Park Service’s Alaska Regional Medical Director, who is also an emergency physician for the Alaska Regional Hospital.
The NPS helicopter flew into the area but was unable to land safely. So they dumped medical supplies on first responders and informed Harper of the need for a winch and stretcher to move the patient off the mountain safely.
The danger on the mountain did not disappear when help arrived.
“On the phone with [the doctor], they heard the snow move overhead and moved the patient to higher ground before a second snow slide descended the ravine, ”said Harper.
Major Ben Leonard, a rescue pilot for the 210th RQS HH-60, said the crew were training for the week at Eielson Air Force Base, about 300 miles north of their home base of the base. municipality of Elmendorf-Richardson. Leonard said the training came in handy when rescuing in the real world after Master Sgt. Tim Ching, HH-60 special mission aviator, flew 23 simulated winches during four hours of training.
“Specifically that week we had done a ton of lifting training, especially high angle lifting training, which is the scenario you found yourself in later in the week,” he said. declared. “In the previous days we had been crewed a lot, and Tim had done what I would call a record number of live winches in very difficult scenarios with the PCs. “
Once there, the Air National Guard parachute team of Senior Master Sgt. Bryan Dalere and Senior Airman Nathan Graber descended to Schutt’s location where they provided additional medical support and stabilized him to hoist him to the helicopter. Looking out the window, HH-60 Rescue Pilot Major Jake Ring said he marveled at the cliff fall that Schutt had survived.
“I remember looking up and thinking it must be at least 80 feet,” he said.
The crew of the Pave Hawk transported Schutt to McCarthy Airport where he was transferred to a Guardian Flight AirMedCare air ambulance and taken to the Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage.
This rescue involved coordination between several agencies, including the 176th Wing, the Alaska Air National Guard, the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve Search and Rescue Team, the National Park Service fire management in Fairbanks, the National Park Service A-Star Helicopter, Wrangell Mountain Air, Guardian Flight, and Kennicott Wilderness Guides.
“It was the people, including Peter, with their will to live,” Aaron said, crediting the save. “His friend who was with him immediately called for help, and they contacted him within an hour and did everything right on the ice – kept him as comfortable as possible, l ‘kept alert and continued talking to her mother. “
During the July 9 visit, Schutt’s family visited a 211th RQS HC-130 as well as the HH-60 that rescued him. Major Stephen Ludwig, 176 Wing Exercise and Planning Officer and Combat King pilot, coordinated the event and gave Schutt a detailed overview of the HC-130 cockpit.
“It’s always great to work at RCC and to work here, to see survivors come back and share their stories, and to put a face on [a rescue,]”said Ludwig.
After recalling the events of May 26, Aaron expressed his gratitude to the multi-agency team who saved his son.
“We are just very grateful to all of you and what you do on a daily basis,” he said.
|Date posted:||07/15.2021 20:52|
|Location:||JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, AK, USA|
|Hometown:||ANCHOR, AK, US|
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