On June 22, 2021, REACH Pilot Pete Ortiz, Flight Nurse Pete Davis and Paramedic John Kowalski landed at Alward Station. Once on the ground, they discussed guidelines for meeting the helicopter and dealing with patients. Pilot Ortiz pointed out that the most dangerous time of the landing is actually as the helicopter is powering down, when the wind can affect the pitch of the rotors. He recommended that ground personnel always stay in the pilot’s field of view, and be extra aware if the ground is not level, as that will position the uphill blade closer to the ground. Paramedic Kowalski demonstrated the operation of the side-loading patient gurney, and Flight Nurse Davis pointed out the generous amount of critical care equipment available in the aircraft. The effect of the high altitude in Shingletown and of factors such as wind and temperature were also discussed. 

On June 29, CHP Pilot Chad Millward and Paramedic Phil Agdeppa dropped in to Alward Station for a similar training with the CHP rescue helicopter. Pilot Millward gave a thorough presentation about the importance of communication (In his words, “The BIG C!") between the ground personnel and the pilot, running through various scenarios to clarify. He talked about using the clock method to indicate position - the nose of the helicopter being 12 o’clock from the pilot’s vantage point. Paramedic Agdeppa demonstrated the use of the hook for rescue. He recommended that one person on the ground wave to give the pilot and rescuer a clear target to drop the hook. SVFD First Responders Jesse Bonagofski, Kerry Thomas, Greg Tavalero and Tom Dodson used the hook June 21 to pull an injured hiker 125 feet out of the canyon below Bear Creek Falls.

Come for free training on Tuesday nights at 7pm at the Alward Fire Station in the Van Stellman Fire Training Center on Hwy 44 at Alward Way (unless we are called out). If there is a 5th Tuesday night in a month, there is no training on that Tuesday. Talk to Chief Tom Dodson about additional free training.

Free Training

Pictures courtesy of The Shingletown Gazette