Air Force Special Tactics Airmen rescue Alabama teen after climbing accident

  • Published
  • By Capt. Craig Savage
  • 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Two Air Force Special Tactics instructors rescued an Alabama teenager after he fell 30 feet from a steep rock face while climbing in the Cherokee Rock mountain range, located in Sand Rock, Ala., Monday.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Macella and Staff Sgt. Chris Johnston, special tactics pararescuemen instructors with the 24 th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., were scouting an area of the park for training purposes when the accident occurred.

"I heard a loud sliding noise, a scream and a thud about 100 meters away," Macella said.

An 18-year-old male, who was climbing with his girlfriend, slid 30 feet down a rock face into a crevice.

"We spread out and started calling to him to identify his location," Johnston said. "When we reached him he was trapped and still elevated about 8 feet off the ground."

Macella climbed through small openings to reach the victim and performed a rapid medical assessment. Once he determined the patient to be in stable condition, Johnston and Macella extracted him through a 2-by-2 hole at the bottom of the crevice.

The two pararescuemen guided the patient up a 60-foot mountain face to their military vehicle where they were able to continue treatment for multiple lacerations and abrasions. The victim's girlfriend took him to a local emergency room for further evaluation.

Air Force pararescuemen's primary mission is personnel recovery. Also known as PJs, these Airmen are specialists with emergency medical capabilities in humanitarian and combat environments. PJs deploy in any available manner, to include air-land-sea tactics, into restricted environments to authenticate, extract, treat, stabilize and evacuate injured personnel. PJs with the 24 SOW are trained for unconventional warfare and are part of the Air Force Special Tactics community.

Special Tactics Airmen are Air Force special operators who conduct worldwide missions supporting U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

For more information on PJs and Special Tactics Airmen click here.