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News | Oct. 21, 2021

USAAAD, DPAA join forces, conduct live hoist rescue training

By Staff Sgt Adam R. Shanks Joint Task Force Bravo Public Affairs

SANTIAGO, Panama - Members of Joint Task Force Bravo’s U.S. Army Air Ambulance Detachment (USAAAD), 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment conducted live hoist and Skedco hoist training, Oct. 11, 2021 in Santiago, Panama.

The training was in support of the Defense POW/MIA Agency (DPAA) who is working around the clock to find the remains of two American Naval aviators that crashed in the Panamanian mountains in 1985.

Along with DPAA, the USAAAD worked closely with the Panamanian National Aeronaval Service (SENAN) and other Panama security forces.

The USAAAD, also known as the Witch Doctors, began the training with a Medical 101 led by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. William Bavetta, a flight medic with the 228th, and Sgt. Alexander Evans, a UH-60 Blackhawk crew chief, where they explained the best practices and techniques to execute live hoist operations.

Additionally, members of SENAN joined the exercise by sitting on the rescue seat and were coached on tagline positioning and how to maneuver when hoisted from the aircraft.

“For the next two months, the DPAA team will search, dig and traverse their way across a 6,000-foot-tall mountain knowing confidently that if someone needs help, USAAAD stands on-call and ready to evacuate them to life-saving medical care,” remarked U.S. Army Capt. Jillian O’Hara, the Company Commander. “Live hoist is a mission task my company trains on weekly to maintain proficiency, however this iteration was very unique in that it set the conditions for DPAA and SENAN to execute their mission.”

DPAA is the U.S. government’s primary agency responsible for fulfilling our nation’s promise, to account for missing service members and help bring closure to the families and their loved ones home.

As DPAA searches for the remains, they can rest assured that if they ever need help, there’s well-equipped and well-trained JTF-B personnel standing by to provide assistance at a moment’s notice.

“We are completely honored and humbled to support such an amazing organization and mission,” added O’Hara. “Through our combined efforts and support of each other, we hope these patriots are brought home to their families.”