Arizona Firefighters Train with Chopper Crew

Part of being a Technical Rescue Team member with the Bullhead City Fire Department can often require working with a helicopter. Wildland fires can often be stopped fast with helicopter water drops.

On Monday, June 14, the Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue provided two different levels of training for the firefighters.

The training was divided into two parts for two different groups of firefighters. The first training with the helicopter was in regard to wildland firefighting. The Kingman based helicopter, with the use of a “Bambi Bucket" can make water drops of 100 gallons each.

Lead pilot and instructor Terry Miyauchi explained how and when the helicopter can be very useful. Safety information was also presented. The dangers when working around a helicopter were also explained.

Communication skills between the pilot and the fire department were also covered. It was also explained to the firefighters what type of landing area that is required for the helicopter.

Hands-on training also was involved. The helicopter loaded with 100 gallons of Colorado River water and the fire department asked the pilot to make water drops in specific areas of Rotary Park.

There are two different types of water drops available from the helicopter. A “spot drop” will concentrate all the water being dropped in one specific area. This was done with the helicopter hovering and not moving. A “line drop” was done with the chopper traveling at a slow speed and dropping the water over a long area.

Usually with 100 gallons the area is limited to about 50 feet in a line fashion. Firefighters would radio the helicopter and state what kind of drop they wanted and where.

The second part of the training was with members of the department’s Technical Rescue Team. This consists of highly trained firefighters which can be deployed almost anywhere, even by a helicopter.

The training involved getting on and off the helicopter when the helicopter is running in flight. The helicopter hovers about three feet off the ground.

Members of the TRT practiced as if they were deployed onto a cliff. They exit the helicopter and walk the bird’s skid to the ground.

Training with a helicopter can prevent injuries and accidents from occurring during a real emergency. The helicopter is staffed with a pilot and officer/paramedic. The DPS Ranger is often called to emergency scenes throughout Mohave County. Depending on the need and availability of helicopters they have covered many other areas of the state.

During an emergency, the speed of the DPS helicopter, ability to land almost anywhere, and trained personnel can make the difference between life and death.