An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Tyndall unit coordinates Nevada rescue

  • Published
Military and civilian members inside the gate at Tyndall played an integral role in the rescue of a family stranded in the snow for more than two days in sub-zero temperatures after a day of sledding at a Nevada mountain range.

Members of the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, a unit assigned to Continental U.S. NORAD Region, 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern), under the direction of Lt. Gen. William Etter, Commander, here, coordinated the use of federal assistance to aid local and state authorities during the extensive search.

"AFRCC coordinated federal, state and local assets used to include the Civil Air Patrol," said Lt. Col. James Woosley, AFRCC Director of Operations.

Using CAP, the official U.S. Air Force Auxiliary agency, the AFRCC team began their assistance early on.

"Upon notification from the State of Nevada, the AFRCC immediately began procedures for a missing-persons rescue," Woosley said. "A key step in a missing-persons rescue is to request cell phone forensics from National Headquarters CAP."

Woosley emphasized the importance of obtaining a cell tower ping when conducting SAR operations, and the Civil Air Patrol cell-phone forensics experts played a critical role at that point.

"Knowing the location of the last cell-tower the phone pinged off of significantly reduces the search area, reducing the timeline for rescue considerably," he said.

And CAP cellular forensics experts agree.

"We worked closely with the AFRCC and local resources like the Nevada Wing Civil Air Patrol, the state Search and Rescue Coordinator, and the Pershing County Sheriff's Office," said Maj. Justin Ogden, a Cellular Forensics technical specialist. "Our team helped review the cell data and made recommendations about where to search. We also had great support from the local cellular company, Commnet Wireless, which operates the cell towers in that area; they helped us uncover the clues that lead to the find."

As the United States' inland search and rescue coordinator, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center serves as the single agency responsible for coordinating on-land federal search and rescue activities in the 48 contiguous United States, Mexico and Canada.

"We operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week supporting rescue operations," Woosley said.

Besides coordinating actual SAR missions, the AFRCC is active in formulating SAR agreements, plans and policy for the inland area.

The AFRCC accepts and acts upon all notifications and will attempt to determine the urgency and facts pertaining to each situation.

"Our most frequent missions are missing-persons incidents and alert notifications for missing aircraft," he said. "AFRCC averages more than 6,000 incidents per year with an average of one life saved every day."

Woosley pointed out that about 85 percent of AFRCC's missions are conducted by CAP.

"The Civil Air Patrol is a highly professional, cost effective organization of volunteers," he said. "They really deserve praise all around for what they do. They were credited with six saves for this mission."