By Sgt. Frank StrumilaAugust 26, 2017
Imagine the following scenario: You are perilously stranded in an area where there is a 300-foot cliff to your left, a jungle-covered hill behind you, in an area inaccessible for ground vehicles, and you or a friend is badly injured. You did, however, think to bring a radio for this very situation.
If you do not think that this scenario could happen to you, Google 'Search and Rescue,' and you will find hundreds of stories, videos, and articles about emergency calls for aid or natural disasters where lives were in jeopardy and needed to be rescued. Rescuing those in need is where the Washington Air National Guard 10th Homeland Response Force Search and Rescue Team comes in.
It was in Kanchanaburi, Thailand that the Washington Air National Guard put their skills to the test during joint U.S. and Royal Thai Army Search and Rescue team operations. Throughout Hanuman Guardian 17, the Washington Air National Guard and the RTA search and rescue teams have been exchanging field craft, soldier skills, and improving overall readiness for both units.
"We trained for a day on structural collapse rescue, which the RTA had really no exposure to before. They asked lots of questions and took pictures of all of our shores (a device that is used for stabilizing a building to prevent further collapse) and diagrams," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Cohan, a HVAC craftsman, of the 141st Civil Engineer Squadron.
The RTA and the Washington Air National Guard also gained experience in simulating a downed helicopter operation with multiple casualties. The two specialized teams utilized rope rescue techniques to lower the victims over a cliff to the ground. The patients were then hoisted by a U.S. Medevac HH-60, which transported them to a U.S. and RTA medical team for treatment. The teams practiced this search-and-rescue live-hoist training under controlled conditions so that if a disaster or emergency were to occur, the teams would ready for the real thing.
Exercise Hanuman Guardian 17 was a learning experience for both search and rescue teams.
"Not only do we build relationships and interoperability capabilities with the RTA, we also learn new skills with every different group we train with," said Tech. Sgt. Craig Minnehan, a power production craftsman, of the 141st Civil Engineer Squadron.
The unique capabilities of both the RTA and the Washington Air Nation Guard allow them to train in the most austere of conditions, where, in many instances, it is the difference between life or death. Many factors go into a rescue: weather, the survivor's condition, location, and altitude. These conditions are often simulated in controlled operations to allow the teams to always be ready for action.
"Natural disasters can happen anywhere, so gaining new skills in rescue response is beneficial no matter what country you live in," said Cohan.