The Alaska Army National Guard and Fairbanks Fire Department rescued a man in critical medical condition from a remote area of Interior Alaska. The man relies on an oxygen machine, and due complications related to extreme weather, was running low on oxygen, explained Candis Olmstead, director of communications for the Alaska Army National Guard.
“Two days without power, failing generators and an extreme snowstorm compounded to severely inhibit his ability to utilize his oxygen tank supply or access medical care,” explains a news release from the Alaska National Guard.
The man’s home is about 10 miles southwest of Anderson and accessible only through a snowmachine trail.
Due to cold weather, the man’s own snowmachine was not running, so he was stuck at home and critically low on oxygen.
Weather conditions were challenging, so Alaska State Troopers requested assistance from the Alaska Air National Guard. The guard has greater abilities to fly in high winds as well as night vision goggles.
“Even if someone could get to him on the ground, with the time it would have taken to travel, he would have been past medical help,” said Michael Lewis, who was one of the pilots involved in the rescue mission.
A Black Hawk crew with a paramedic and emergency technician from the Fairbanks Fire Department left Fort Wainwright around 6 p.m. Sunday.
There was nowhere to land close to the man’s home, so medical personnel snowshoed about a mile pulling a sled, through trees, vegetation and snow in temperatures well below zero.
Once they reached the home, personnel were able to stabilize the man and prepare him to fly to Fairbanks. The crew arrived at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Contact reporter Maisie Thomas at 907-459-7544 or [email protected].