Pararescue Airmen, local agencies train to save lives
By Airman 1st Class Jamie Coggan, 355th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 05, 2007
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.