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31st RQS: search rescue swiss army knife

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stephen Pulter
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

Embodying the motto “that others may live,” the 31st Rescue Squadron’s mission is to make sure anyone in need of medical care, regardless of the location or situation, will make it out safe and sound. Being called upon to save lives under varying circumstances means the 31st RQS must be ready for any scenario and capable of a multitude of skills.

The 31st RQS pararescue jumpers use a plethora of different skills to rescue patients. From using complicated rope systems to extract hunters in Alaska, to diving into caves to rescue a Thai soccer team; there are no limits to their capabilities.

The men of the 31st RQS consider themselves a jack of all trades – apt to handle any scenario that may be thrown their way.

“PJs are really the swiss army knife of any emergency situation a team might run into. They can shoot, utilize rope systems, jump, dive, do vehicle extrication, disaster relief …They bring a lot of capabilities to the table,” said a 31st RQS, combat rescue officer. “It's a misconception that PJs are just combat medics; they definitely bring the medical aspect to the fight, but even more so, they bring that technical rescue aspect.”

They use the tried-and-true crawl, walk, run method while training, to ensure all aspects of a rescue mission are covered and can be expertly applied to provide medical attention to a patient. One key aspect of their training is insertion methods, which ensures they can reach a patient, even in the most austere environments.

“About 80 percent of our job boils down to different methods of insertion to reach a patient, we are rescue and recovery specialists, our bread and butter is accessing patients,” said a 31st RQS PJ. “We have to be able to access patients in a wide variety of ways because a medical situation can happen in any environment, at any time. When you add in night operations and combat to the equation that adds even more complexity, requiring more training and tactics that we have to implement.”

Regardless of the environment PJs may find themselves in, when they reach a patient, they have to be able to apply their medical knowledge, treat and sustain said patient and provide safe transportation to a suitable medical facility.

“We are nationally registered paramedics, but we also contract courses out to continue developing our skill sets,” said a 31st RQS PJ. “We can provide advanced cardiac life support, pediatric life support, trauma care and more.”

Ultimately, the PJ’s mission is to rescue and recover personnel in both conventional and unconventional environments regardless of the danger they may encounter.

“Part of the warrior's creed is that anyone to your left or right is willing to sacrifice themselves for you – it's a mutual agreement,” a 31st RQS PJ said. “We understand that when every person working behind enemy lines knows they will not be left behind and that there are people willing to put it all on the line to come in and save them, they feel more comfortable and safer doing their job.”