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Rescued Brevig Mission Snowmachiners Suffered from Frostbite

Soldiers clear the landing zone after cargo is secured to a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter.

On Thursday, search and rescue crews found and recovered two missing snowmachiners from Brevig Mission who had been waylaid while traveling to Nome. The two men, Thomas Olanna and Brandon Tocktoo, were both found to be suffering from frostbite.

On Wednesday, February 15th, the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center received a request for assistance from the Alaska State Troopers to find Olanna and Tocktoo, who had been reported overdue from their travel plans. A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was deployed from Nome along with ground search teams from Brevig Mission and Nome, but high winds and poor visibility thwarted their initial efforts.

The next day, Thursday, February 16, a search and rescue team from the Nome Volunteer Fire Department made another attempt and finally found Tocktoo and Olanna in a cabin near the Sinuk River Bridge. A crew from the Alaska Army National Guard was also involved in the search. According to a press release from the Alaska National Guard, both men had cases of frostbite: one mild, the other severe.

Both Tocktoo and Olanna were transported to Nome and released to a waiting ambulance on Thursday.

The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center recommends that people take a personal locator beacon (PLB) or Satellite Emergency Notification Device (SEND) with them when traveling into the wilderness, even on short outings. The activation of a PLB or SEND will provide an immediate notification to emergency responders and markedly increase your chances of being rescued.

An earlier version of this story had incorrectly spelled the Sinuk River Bridge (as “Sinut”). The error has been corrected.