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Pararescue Airmen, local agencies train to save lives

A 48th Rescue Squadron pararescuman and an injured hiker are hoisted into a hovering HH-60 Pave Hawk during an exercise to strengthen relations between Davis-Monthan and local civilian rescue agencies April 1.  The hiker was air lifted to University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz., to complete the exercise. (Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Chad Watts)

A 48th Rescue Squadron pararescuman and an injured hiker are hoisted into a hovering HH-60 Pave Hawk during an exercise to strengthen relations between Davis-Monthan and local civilian rescue agencies April 1. The hiker was air lifted to University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz., to complete the exercise. (Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Chad Watts)

Members of the Pima County Sheriff Search and Rescue Team, Southern Arizona Rescue Association and 48th Rescue Squadron pararescuemen coordinate the evacuation of simulated injured and lost hikers during a local civil search and rescue exercise April 2 at Coronado National Forest, Ariz. (Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Chad Watts)

Members of the Pima County Sheriff Search and Rescue Team, Southern Arizona Rescue Association and 48th Rescue Squadron pararescuemen coordinate the evacuation of simulated injured and lost hikers during a local civil search and rescue exercise April 2 at Coronado National Forest, Ariz. (Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Chad Watts)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The 563rd Rescue Group here conducted an exercise at Coronado National Forest April 2 to test how military and civilian agencies work together during an emergency situation. 

Davis-Monthan Airmen, working alongside members of the National Park Service, Forest Service, and Pima County Sheriff's Department, in a scenario to find three lost hikers who had minimal supplies. 

"The exercise was implemented to help the squadron get comfortable with standard operating procedures and to familiarize the local agencies with the system," said Maj. Brett Hartnett, 563rd Operations Support Squadron assistant director of operations. 

When park service officers and sheriffs are unable to perform a rescue, they request military assistance, Major Hartnett said. In such cases, they call the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. If it's a legitimate request, the AFRCC calls the 23rd Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., which tasks D-M Airmen to perform the rescue. 

Due to previous training and experience, it took 15 minutes for the request for help to reach the 563rd Rescue Squadron during the exercise, said Tech. Sgt. Chad Watts, 563rd RQG survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist. 

"This exercise not only helped familiarize military members with the system - it helped establish good rapport with the local authorities," Sergeant Watts said. 

So far this year, D-M Airmen have performed two stateside rescue missions and one in Mexico.