Alaska Army National Guard helps rescue injured individual near Noorvik

by Spc. Grace Nechanicky

The Alaska Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment’s Army Aviation Operations Facility in Nome helped rescue an individual in Coffin Camp May 16, 2020.

At approximately 5 a.m., the AAOF in Nome was contacted by the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center on JBER for support in picking up and transferring a man who had stepped on some nails at a fishing camp west of Noorvik.

The injured man required assistance because his injuries, mixed with the difficult terrain that comprised flooded trails and a frozen river, rendered him unable to evacuate himself.

“He had been staying at his camp and was likely planning to leave when the river broke up,” said Alaska Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 3 Paul Jones, the pilot for the rescue mission, “He stayed there about a week after sustaining his injuries, but he ended up calling the village public safety officer (VPSO) for assistance because he didn’t want it to get to the point where he couldn’t help himself.”

The Noorvik VPSO contacted the Alaska State Troopers, who requested help from the AK RCC, and they delegated the rescue mission to the AAOF in Nome.

After the AAOF coordinated with the AK RCC and the Noorvik VPSO to gather all necessary information, the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter piloted by Jones departed Nome at 7:15 a.m., and landed in Noorvik at 9 a.m. to pick up the officer.

“The VPSO was picked up to help scout the area,” Jones said, “It gives us an advantage since he can use local knowledge.”

The aircraft left three minutes later for Coffin Camp, seven miles west of Noorvik, where the distressed individual was quickly located and picked up at 9:15 a.m. The UH-60 returned the VPSO to Noorvik and flew to Kotzebue where the injured man was transported by ambulance to Maniilaq Health Center to be treated.

The AAOF, 1-207th AVN and AK RCC were awarded one save for this rescue.

Spc. Grace Nechanicky writes from Joint Force Headquarters at JBER, Alaska.