In the year 2020:
The Idaho Army National Guard’s state aviation group assisted multiple counties with at least six search and rescue missions throughout 2020, providing Soldiers with approximately 18 hours of flight time in real-world missions. Soldiers worked closely with officials from Blaine, Boise, Custer and Elmore counties to assist in the rescue of six individuals.
In June, crews rescued three stranded rafters from the south fork of the Boise River in Elmore County after their raft capsized. The flight crew found all three rafters and transported them to first responders on the ground.
In August, crews assisted with three separate search efforts in mountainous terrain in Boise, Custer and Elmore counties. Soldiers transported a man who had collapsed while hiking around 10,000 feet altitude in Custer County after Life Flight was unable to land due to the terrain. The patient was transferred to the Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, where an ambulance transported him to receive care at a civilian hospital.
Later in the month, crews located another hiker who had collapsed near Lake Ingeborg in the Sawtooth Range and transported him to a nearby airport. Near Idaho City, crews hoisted a man involved in an ATV accident to safety and transported him to first responders waiting at the Idaho City airstrip.
In October, crews participated in the search for two missing individuals in separate incidents near Thunder Mountain and the Prairie Creek Trail Head. Crews were unable to locate either of the individuals during their search. However, the 82-year-old man hunting near Thunder Mountain was later found in good health by a ground search party.
Several Idaho Army National Guard helicopters are equipped with a hoist, which provides the community with a unique rescue capability civilian helicopters do not typically have. The hoists allow rescue crews to reach individuals on the ground when adverse conditions prevent the civilian helicopters from landing.
Soldiers train routinely with the Boise Fire Department to help with swift water rescue missions using this capability.
In August, the Idaho Army National Guard sent three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and nearly two-dozen Soldiers to assist firefighters in California as the state battled record wildfires. A dozen Soldiers and two UH-60s returned in September to continue their efforts as conditions worsened in California.
The teams included pilots and crew chiefs who make up the flight crews, essential maintenance and support personnel, and two flight paramedics augmenting California National Guard UH-60 medevac crews.
Between the two missions, crews logged more than 100 flight hours and dumped more than 80,000 gallons of water, mostly on the LNU Lighting Complex Fire in northern California.
Detachment 35 (C12)
Air Ambulance Detachment (Lakota)
The UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) is effective in the performance of light utility missions, but is not effective for use in hot environments or for medical evacuation of two litter patients requiring critical medical care. The LUH is effective for air movement and aerial sustainment missions, but does not meet its prescribed performance criteria to lift required external and internal loads.
The C-12 Huron is one of three aircraft flown by the Idaho Army National Guard. The twin-engine turboprop aircraft is used to transport passengers and equipment. The State Aviation Group has one aircraft and its pilots have deployed overseas several times since 9/11.
Det 2, C Company, 1-168th GSAB (Medevac)
In the year 2019:
In 2019, more than 30 Soldiers from the Idaho Army National Guard’s Detachment 2, Charlie Company, 1-168th General Support Aviation Battalion were welcomed home from Afghanistan by Governor Brad Little and senior Idaho National Guard leaders at a ceremony in Sun Valley. The UH-60 Black Hawk medevac unit deployed in April 2018 and provided aeromedical evacuation support for the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
Throughout the deployment, medevac crews collectively flew approximately 100 missions and more than 1,000 hours in helicopters equipped with advanced combat life-saving tools, external hoist systems and forward-looking infrared cameras. Flight crews consist of two pilots, a Idaho welcomes home deployed Soldiers crew chief and a flight paramedic. Soldiers worked 24-hour shifts and had 15 minutes to be up in the air, responding to calls from up to 40 miles away.
The deployment marked the eighth time in the past decade an Idaho Army National Guard aviation unit has deployed.