304th Rescue Squadron assists civilian search and rescue

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nicole Koreen, 943rd Rescue Group Public Affairs
  • 920th Rescue Wing

An eight-member Guardian Angel team from the 304th Rescue Squadron was called upon to assist with the rescue efforts of two injured climbers from Mount Rainier, Washington on May 13.

A multi-team search-and-rescue mission was conducted after a climber was injured from falling approximately 100 feet down a crevasse at Kautz Glacier on Mount Rainier.

The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) received a request from the National Park Service for the 304th RQS to assist with a high altitude rescue operation in coordination with the Oregon Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The National Park Service was unable to complete the rescue on their own due to their rescue helicopter being down for maintenance.

Under Defense Support for Civilian Authorities, the process by which United States military assets and personnel can be used to assist civil authorities during emergencies and other specific events, when a situation requires the skill set a military unit has they can be asked to support.
“We had four Airmen up there doing joint training. They were up there practicing their civilian search and rescue (CIVSAR) techniques so that when they get called it wouldn’t be the first time they were working together. It just so happens the last day they were up there they actually got a CIVSAR call,” said the 304th RQS team commander. 

The 304th RQS was able to recover one of the climbers and transport them to a hospital for medical care. The National Park Service was then able to recover the second climber and transfer them to the 304th RQS who then provided medical care while transporting the climber to a hospital.

All of the 304th RQS pararescuemen have nationally registered emergency medical technician (EMT) paramedic certifications to ensure unit preparedness and maximize their ability to save lives in rescue situations.

"We are constantly training to be ready at a moment's notice for combat rescue around the world. Whenever we are called upon, we are ready to respond. We exist to save lives," the team commander said.

The 304th Rescue Squadron is part of the 943rd Rescue Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, a geographically separated unit within the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida.