WADS contributes to lifesaving event

McCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The Western Air Defense Sector, a unit of the Washington Air National Guard, played a vital role in saving lives on Oct. 26 as wild fires blazed in Southern California. While on a night mission under WADS' tactical control, a P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft from the Navy's Patrol Squadron VP 46, Whidbey Island, Wash., spotted a home in an evacuated residential area that still had vehicles parked outside.

Unsure as to whether the home was occupied, the P-3 crew sent a message to the Western Air Defense Sector who then relayed it to the Air Forces Northern Air and Space Operations Center at Tyndall AFB, Fla. The timeliness of the WADS crew's action was instrumental in alerting local agencies to the area to help the family evacuate the home just ahead of the approaching fires.

"WADS provided the key communication link from the P-3 to the ground units, enabling the information of the approaching fire to be passed to the Cal Fire ICF," said LCDR Shannon K. Tolliver, officer in charge of the P-3 detachment.

The Sector offered the use of its national network of radio and radar systems to maintain visibility on the P-3 and other airborne assets aiding US Northern Command's Defense Support to Civil Authority missions for Southern California's wildfires.