ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Coast Guard medevaced a hiker who had sustained multiple lacerations to his leg after being mauled by a grizzly on Afognak Island, just north of Kodiak, Friday afternoon.
A member of the hiking party used a satellite phone to contact watchstanders in the Coast Guard District 17 command center in Juneau around 1 p.m.
Watchstanders in the Sector Anchorage command center in Anchorage coordinated the rescue, requesting the launch of the helicopter crew.
A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak arrived on scene. The crew hoisted the 31-year-old man and returned him to Kodiak, where he was placed in the care of awaiting EMS.
Public Affairs Specialist with the Sector Anchorage command center Nate Littlejohn says the Coast Guard in Alaska is best-known for its maritime search and rescue, but it often conducts inland search and rescue operations as well.
“Urgent situations like the attack on Friday require swift response from properly trained people with assets capable of responding to persons in distress,” Littlejohn said. “And on Friday, that just happened to be us.”
Littlejohn says the last the Coast Guard heard, the man is in stable condition, thanks to the quick response from his well-prepared fellow hikers. He says being prepared often means the difference between life and death when recreating in the Alaska wilderness.
“It’s always good to have a satellite phone in the case of, if you’re a boater you’re going to want to have a VHF marine radio,” Littlejohn said. “In addition to having a means of communication, you’re going to want to have survival equipment. It’s always good to assume that you may have to spend a couple nights out there if you get stuck or you get hurt.”
Littlejohn says to always bring extra food, water, warm clothing and a means of drawing attention to yourself – flares, lights, whistles -- to make it easier for rescuers to find you.