The Harrison Township Fire Department hosted an IU Health Lifeline Air Ambulance training session Monday evening on the grounds of Westside Community Church, located on Columbus’ west side. The training session focused on areas including landing zones, aircraft familiarization, loading of patient and ground-to-air radio communications.
The training session, which was attended by dozens of area first-responders and firefighters, professional and volunteer, addressed potential hazards to responders as they operate around the aircraft. Trevor Erickson, a Lifeline pilot with Metro Aviation, Inc., says that the hazards are many and include things that you may not think about. While the obvious dangers include helicopter blades and other moving parts, other hazards include power lines, light-poles and uneven landing surfaces. Noting the wind created by the helicopter blades, Erickson also reminded first-responders that it is important for them to suggest good landing areas, devoid of dry dirt and snow. By landing in those areas, he says that the helicopter can create brownout and whiteout conditions, potentially endangering the patient, first-responders and the helicopter crew. The wind generated from the helicopter, up to 100 mph, can also cause loose debris, hats, towels, tents and other items to be thrown around, said Erickson.
Erickson, and the rest of his crew, spoke to first-responders in a classroom setting for about an hour before training began. Responders were trained on the importance of finding good landing areas for the helicopter, preferably a flat, smooth area, like a parking lot, or a flat, grassy field. The practice focused on the loading of patients into the helicopter, both when the aircraft is off, called “cold-loading,” and when it is operational with blades activated, called “hot-loading.” Lifeline crew members stressed the importance of hot-load training, as a mistake by first-responders could lead to an injury or death, as well as compromise the safety of the crew and patient.
Several local agencies took part in the training. They included members of the Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Department, Southwest Volunteer Fire Department and the City of Columbus Fire Department. Capt. Mike Wilson, spokesman for the Columbus Fire Department, says that he was impressed with the training and turnout. He noted that it is important for all firefighters to be prepared for whatever the job calls on them to do.