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Air National Guard evacuates sick baby from Western Alaska village

Michelle Theriault Boots

A critically ill newborn was evacuated from a Western Alaska village by an Alaska Air National Guard crew Saturday after a private air ambulance couldn't get to the village because of weather and runway restrictions.

The two-week-old baby in New Stuyahok, a village of about 500 people northeast of Dillingham on the Nushagak River, was suffering from neonatal pneumonia and a local medical care provider felt the child's life was in danger, said Candis Olmstead of the Alaska Air National Guard.

"The child was coughing and vomiting and had discoloration of the skin and trouble breathing," she said.

The Bristol Bay Area Health Care Corporation requested a medevac but Guardian Air Ambulance couldn't get in because of poor weather and a local runway that restricts landings by planes weighing more than 10,000 lbs., Olmstead said.

The Alaska Air National Guard launched a HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter and an HC-130 airplane as a refueling escort to New Stuyahok at around 1 a.m., she said.

A helicopter crew including para-rescue personnel picked up the child, who was taken to an Anchorage hospital in stable condition at 9:30 a.m., Olmstead said.

Both parents flew to Anchorage with the child.

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at mtheriault@adn.com or 257-4344.


By MICHELLE THERIAULT BOOTS
mtheriault@adn.com