As many of you may have heard, earlier this week on the evening of January 29th, a Guardian Flight medevac plane was reported overdue for landing in the small southeast village of Kake, AK. A search effort for the missing plane and three onboard crew members was conducted by the US Coast Guard and many local search and rescue groups as well as local good Samaritans. We, as an entire larger community of medevac providers, and especially those here in the State of Alaska, have been anxiously awaiting news from the search and rescue efforts. It is with great sorrow that I report that yesterday evening, after 48 hours of searching, the US Coast guard stopped the official search for the team after finding several pieces of debris but no crew members. The crew members on board were Pilot: Captain Patrick Coyle, Flight Nurse: Stacie Morse, RN and Flight medic: Margaret Langston, MICP. As a community of air medical providers we are deeply saddened by the loss of three wonderful people whom several of us were fortunate enough to know personally. These heroes laid down their lives to help another, and we would like to join in on a statewide memorial for these lost souls.
This evening, starting at 6pm Friday February 1st, there will be a candlelight vigil at Old St. Joe’s for anyone in the community that would like to attend, show their support, empathy and solidarity for the families, the Guardian Flight crew and indeed our own flight crew here at NSHC. Medevac is such a critical part of the medical system here in Alaska, and there are few whose lives a medevac team hasn’t impacted, especially here in our region. So we invite anyone within the community who would like to attend, medical providers, friends of medevac, past patients, family members, all of you. It would truly show the spectacular bond that our great state of Alaska has if we can literally pack the house this evening. This ceremony should last approximately 30-45 minutes. There will be a moment of silence as well as a candle lighting ceremony. If you are able to, please bring a candle to light. Candlestick type candles work well but remember to poke them through a small circular piece of paper at the base to catch the wax drips. You will be holding your candle for the ceremony. In lieu of a candle (being in Nome means we are in short supply), there are apps available for download on your smart phone that will display a candle on the screen. What we do as a medevac team is more than a job, it is a community, please join us tonight in celebrating that community and showing support for those of us that will never forget.
Dress code: Flight crew, EMS, FD and Police staff: please come dressed in your emergency services uniform. Clean flight suit/uniform. Others: please come dressed in clothing appropriate for the occasion.
We hope to see you all there shortly before 6pm and offer our sincere thanks in advance for your support.