Team effort saves SERE student

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Sean Campbell
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
It was 8:38 p.m. when Tech. Sgt. John Pruett waited to board a UH-1N Huey helicopter in the 36th Rescue Squadron hangar for routine training. Meanwhile, in the Tacoma command post, Capt. Kyle Nelson was being notified of a possible medical evacuation. Nelson ran to the hangar and informed Pruett of the impending medical evacuation situation and to stand by to assist. Once the emergency situation was confirmed, the team immediately began to prepare their rescue equipment.

A team consisting of three aircrew, Maj. Kent Reichle, 36th RQS assistant director of operations, Nelson, 36th RQS flight commander, and Pruett, 36th RQS Huey flight engineer instructor, rescued a Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape student who had a medical incident at the Tacoma training area in the Colville National Forest, May 14.

The incident occurred on a steep bank SERE instructors call the “Bear Claw”, a training site they have on a mountain side.

“We flew into a position at 50 feet, held it, then repositioned to a spot that was at 75 feet to better pick up the patient,” said Pruett. “After picking up the student, we had to switch devices from the litter to the forest penetrator to pick up Master Sgt. Jayme Klyne.”

Klyne, 336th Training Squadron independent medical technician was out on the ground with the student conducting field triage and was the one who made the decision to call in the 36th RQS to medically evacuate the student.

There are two medics in the field with the students at all times. Each group of students has an instructor and if something goes wrong they report it over a radio transmission that we monitor. A medic then evaluates the situation and determines if a medical evacuation is necessary, Nelson said.

Once hovering above a scene, the crew evaluates how to best position the litter. The litter is then lowered and disconnected. After disconnecting the litter, the crew waits for a call from the medic before re-approaching the scene and evacuating the patient.

Dropping a Stokes litter 50 to 70 feet into a small wooded area is one of the most difficult things the 36th RQS trains for but the training we conduct makes it so that they can complete the mission without experiencing issues, Pruett said.

Twenty-five minutes after the student and Klyne were hoisted into the helicopter they arrived at Sacred Heart Medical Center, in Spokane Wash.

“Each mission is different, but this mission was as mechanic as you can get,” Pruett said. “There wasn’t anything that happened that was too crazy.”

This was the 36th RQS’s 696th save to date.