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Fire Academy Brings Together Regional Helicopter Community with Unique Training Program
By Lyn Burks

It’s no secret that certain parts of the Midwest U.S. are a hotbed of helicopter activity, and Ohio is no exception. This is especially true when it comes to sectors like EMS, Law Enforcement, and Electronic News Gathering (ENG), where a variety of helicopters, from a variety of operators are literally operating in the back yards of the communities they serve.

The concept of hundreds of local communities having to work with dozens of different helicopters poses real challenges for Public Safety Agencies. Thousands of times per year, the world of the helicopter comes down out of the atmosphere and mixes closely with the world of the people working on the streets. Every time this occurs, risk is increased and safety becomes paramount.

The only way for dozens of Public Safety Agencies to work safely with dozens of different helicopters is through training and familiarization. One Ohio Training Organization has taken the bull by the horns and has created a successful annual training event which brings together the Public Safety Agencies and the Helicopter Operators in the Region.

The Erie Huron Ottawa Vocational Educational (EHOVE) Fire Academy is located in Milan, Ohio.

As a Retired U.S. Air Force Reserve firefighter, Pete Zimmerman, the developer of this training program, recalls that a great deal of his training was on Aircraft Identification, Access, Shut-down, and Air Crew removal. “Typically, firefighters outside of the airport setting do not receive aircraft training, yet these same aircraft are flying into and through our communities on a daily basis.” Hence the creation of the “Helicopter Identification & Aircrew Extraction/Ingress Training.”

The goal at The EHOVE Fire Academy is to train local first responders on these same procedures and build real familiarization among the ground agencies that are likely to be working closely with the helicopter operators in the region. The 2011 Inaugural Helicopter Identification and Egress Procedure class was followed up by a “Fly-In” which provided a training opportunity of a life time. Eighty-five public safety representatives from three States descended on the EHOVE campus to receive four hours of instruction on basic aircraft firefighting, hazards associated with helicopters, flight line familiarization, and emergency operations followed up with three hours of hands-on training on 11 different types of actual aircraft.

Upon completion of the training, attendees are provided professionally printed Emergency Response Quick-Reference Guides which are simply called “The Guide”. The Guide is a 4x6 inch, spiral bound flip chart. Thus far, “The Guide” for 2012 contains 110 pages of information on 18 aircraft to include identification, access, shut-down procedures, and aircrew removal. The plan is for each student to return to their respective Public Service Agencies and have this resource available to them in the event of an emergency.

According to Zimmerman, the 2012 training event which is scheduled for July 14, 2012 at the Mansfield Air National
Guard Base, is shaping up to double in size with twice as many helicopters and attendees. Since EHOVE funds the costs associated with hosting the event, the instructors, and printing “The Guide” for distribution, they are actively seeking sponsors to help them produce another top notch safety training event.

If you are interested in learning more about this regional safety training event, contact Pete Zimmerman of EHOVE at ffzim1@aol.com.

SIDE BAR

Participating Helicopters:

Akron Children’s Hospital (EC-135)    
The Cleveland Clinic (S-76) 
Cleveland Metro Life Flight (EC-145)    
Helicopter Minit-Men (MD-500) 
MedFlight of Ohio (EC-130)                                                                   
Mercy St. Vincent’s Life Flight (AW-109) 
Miami Valley Care Flight (AS-365)    
Ohio State Highway Patrol (AS-350) 
Precision Helicopters (Schweizer 300)    
ProMedica Air & Mobile (BO-105) 
University Hospitals MedEvac (EC-135)     
Private Pilot Mike Mazar – Michigan Helicopter Association (Bell 47)
Other aircraft still pending at this time include but not limited to;

Pending:
Stat MedEvac (EC-135)
University of Michigan Survival Flight (EC-155)   
WBNS TV10 Columbus (Bell 407)
Ohio Army National Guard (CH-47, UH-60 & UH-72)  
United States Coast Guard (MH-65C)
Columbus Police Department (MD-500)    
WJW Fox 8 Cleveland (Bell 206)
WOIO 19 Cleveland (Bell 206)     
Marion County Sheriffs Office (OH-58)
Erickson Air-Crane (S-64)     
WCMH 4 Columbus (Bell 206)
Haverfield Aviation (Hughes 369)

 

 

 

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