Desperate For Bus Drivers, Anchorage School District Asks National Guard For Help

Alaska National Guard Says Can't Drive School Buses For City Of Anchorage  Pave Hawk helicopter (Photo, Wikipedia)  The Alaska National ...

Alaska National Guard Says Can't Drive School Buses For City Of Anchorage 

Pave Hawk helicopter (Photo, Wikipedia) 

The Alaska National Guard is a highly-trained group of rescue professionals. In Alaska, their expertise is arguably greater than in other parts of America, due to our unique dangers, isolation, rugged geography, communications and weather conditions. 

Our state's world-class guardsmen form the vaunted "176th Wing" of Alaska's rescue heroes who daringly help people in rural Alaska who face catastrophic troubles in the wilds. 

They are here for us when something really terrible happens in isolated places and there's no other solution. When people drive their snowmachines into glaciers, wander off into the woods, tumble hundreds of feet down mountain cliffs, crash their planes into mountains... 

We read about the Guard's daredevil, personally dangerous efforts all the time. 

The Guard is willing and able to step into the breach when times are bad. As the Alaska National Guard Mission Statement says: "We are always prepared to respond to and assist in the recovery from domestic disasters and emergencies."

When the public typically hears about the work of the Alaska National Guard, it's because of  pilots who are painstakingly trained to maneuver massive multi-million dollar Pave Hawk helicopters. It's because of pararescuers who have honed their skills. The Alaska National Guard is there for us, ready to rush into our world from JBER at a moment's notice. 

There's a never-ending fire hose of rescues required in Alaska. In just the past month and a half, on June 27th, 2022, the National Guard helped rescue an injured climber on Denali. On July 18th, they rescued two people in a Lake Louise area airplane crash. On August 8th, they rescued two plane crash victims at Wrangell-St. Elias Park. On August 9th, they rescued two lost hikers at Crow Pass. And in three separate incidents on August 11th and 12th, in different locations in Southcentral and the Interior, they rescued five people.


BUS DRIVER CRISIS 

Thousands of children don't have bus drivers right now in Anchorage. The school district, needing help, explored the "the possibility of using National Guard resources," according to an Anchorage Daily News story on August 19th. 

But driving school buses for Alaska's largest school district, though an important job, is not on the National Guard's agenda of things to do, according to Section 26.05.070 of Alaska law. 

The bus driver crisis in the city doesn't rise to the level of a "domestic disaster" says the Guard. As a result, a spokesman for the Alaska National Guard said Alaska law does "not permit the activation of National Guard members for this purpose." 

The Anchorage School District's superintendent, Jarrett Bryantt, acknowledged the failed effort to get the Guard on board in a story in the Anchorage Daily News: 

"While a viable means of support was not possible we are very appreciative of Governor Dunleavy and our partners at the National Guard for their collaboration to help find solutions." 


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