Getting In and Getting Out

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Getting in and out of a helicopter doesn't sound like something that's too difficult.  You walk up to the helicopter, climb in, and off you go, right?

Well, the Mountain Rescue team will tell you otherwise.  For this Unit, getting in and out of a helicopter is not only tricky, but it also requires practice.

Here's a picture of one of our helicopter's on its way to pick up two volunteers at a location in Red Rock:

Helicopter on final approach:

Just about to land.  Notice the small landing zone and group of Rescuers waiting for the helicopter's arrival:

Before entering the helicopter, the Rescuers carry about 50 pounds of their own gear along with 50 - 100 pounds of additional equipment required to conduct rescue operations:

The first Rescuer is in the ship while the second Rescuer loads the remaining equipment and climbs in:

With everyone on board and an all clear, the helicopter takes off with Rescuers and gear on board:

As you can see, conducting this type of operation becomes a little more difficult given the environment and gear involved.  Last night, Mountain Rescue Volunteers practiced these steps with an additional element added.  They practiced getting in and out of the helicopter at night.  

All of a sudden, the environment at Red Rock looks like this:

LVMPDSAR conducts a night-time training session once a month so that the Team has the opportunity to practice in the dark.  As you can see from the pictures above, turning the lights out on a rescue mission drastically changes things.  Pilots use night-vision goggles to fly and Volunteers use headlamps to move about.  Because of this, night-time sessions are a critical component of the training regime.


LVMPDSAR is one of the only Units in the world that will conduct rescue missions at night.  Most Units wait until day break, but because of the level of training that is conducted and resources that are available, this Unit is ready to respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.