The Idaho Army National Guard’s State Aviation Group assisted the 124th Fighter Wing’s Air Support Operations Squadron and Medical Group in executing medevac training at Prairie, Idaho. August 30, 2023.
During the joint-training, the Idaho Army National Guard occupied the skies in preparation for the medevac operations training with UH-60 Black Hawk aircrews while the Idaho Air National Guard, on the ground, prepped patients and radioed nine-line medevac requests. The units also conducted vehicle sling-load operations and discussed hoist training.
“Each service excels in certain areas,” said Tech. Sgt. Annelise Bertleson, a medic with the 124th Medical Group. “When we can come together and understand how our individual rolls fit together as one, I believe that’s one of the biggest benefits you get from joint training. It also reinforces how much stronger we are when we work together.”
These training’s account for only a fraction of the Idaho National Guard’s capabilities. The training keeps flight crews prepped and ready for real world missions to which they routinely respond. It also strengthens interoperability between Army aviation, medical personnel and 124th ASOS Airmen.
“The UH-60 Black Hawk is called a utility helicopter for a reason,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Rhodes, a Black Hawk crew chief with the Idaho Army National Guard. “We have so many capabilities between hoisting equipment or people. The training we did with the 124th ASOS can be replicated with any state or military agency in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.”
In May, the State Aviation Group, working with the Garden Valley Fire Department, hoisted an injured hunter out of the Deadwood Reservoir area. In July, working with Saint Luke’s, they performed a two-wheeled landing on the side of a mountain in Stanley to extract an injured hiker.
The unit receives several of these requests annually. Their services are a last resort as a non-compete clause prevents unit tasking until all other state options have been exhausted, said Capt. Kate Smith, commander, Gold Company, 1-168th Aviation Regiment.
“State assets often get tasked to assist surrounding states or even Canadian partners with certain crises,” said Smith. “When that happens, because there are now fewer civilian resources available to the state, we get tasked more regularly.”
In addition to the limited availability of civilian emergency aviation assets in Idaho, the Idaho Army National Guard is the only hoist capable asset in the state.
Beyond these local missions, Smith emphasizes the extent of the Idaho National Guard’s aviation operations.
“The scope of what we do is immense whether we’re working with the Boise Fire Department, Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue, U.S. Navy Seals, the 124th Fighter Wing, the U.S. Marine Corps, Defense Support of Civil Authorities and much more,” said Smith.
Next year, fulfilling the Idaho National Guard’s federal mission, Idaho Army National Guard aviation assets plan to mobilize in support of the Joint Emergency Evacuation Plan in Washington D.C. and to Kosovo in support of a long-standing NATO mission.
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