TYNDALL AFB, Fla. --
Air Forces Northern’s Air Force Rescue Coordination Center recorded its 200th “save” of the year Aug. 17 when a controller at the center facilitated a search and rescue mission for a couple hiking near the Yellowstone River in Wyoming.
At approximately 7:25 a.m. MDT Aug. 17, the AFRCC received satellite notification of a 406 MHz Personal Locator Beacon activated in Teton County, Wyo.
“I was one of the Search and Rescue Controllers on the floor working this mission,” said Master Sgt. Peter Griffin, AFRCC Superintendent. “We received the beacon activation through the Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System. From there we contacted the Wyoming Joint Operations Center, passed the PLB coordinates, and stayed in contact with local authorities until the mission was complete.”
Griffin said that the beacon belonged to an elderly couple that had gone for hike on Hawks Rest Mountain in Yellowstone National Park. While on their hike, the wife sustained a leg injury and could not continue on the trail. From the time the AFRCC received to beacon to the time local authorities picked up the couple was about three hours. The couple was located within one nautical mile of the coordinates the AFRCC provided.
“Using the registration data on PLB we contacted a family member who confirmed the couple was out on a hike,” said Griffin. “After the mission was over, the wife actually called to thank me for getting help to them so fast. Moment’s like that serve as somber reminder for me why our mission is important.”
The AFRCC processes and investigates approximately 1,000 PLB activations each year. Including all beacon types the AFRCC processes approximately 7,000 beacon incidents a year.
“Our role at the AFRCC is to connect the dots between those in need of assistance with those who can provide potentially life-saving support,” said Lt Col Evan Gardner, AFRCC director of operations. “The statistic of 200 saves is not just a number, that’s 200 people that now can spend time with their family and friends thanks in part to the men and women on this ops floor. Our team is 100% invested in performing our mission with urgency and professionalism all the time because whenever we respond to requests for support we know that lives are on the line.”
The AFRCC operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and serves as the single agency responsible for coordinating on-land federal search and rescue activities in the 48 contiguous United States, Mexico, and Canada.
“Every time we're involved in a search and rescue mission, we are all in, we are leaning forward to do everything we can as quickly as possible to find support and assets available to aid that search or that rescue mission,” said Gardner.
For more information on the AFRCC or their mission visit www.1af.acc.af.mil.