Rangers get air rescue training - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Rangers get air rescue training

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January 16, 2003

Crisp County -- Rescue helicopters can save lives in medical emergencies in remote areas. Under new Homeland Security guidelines, all Department of Natural Resource officers in Georgia are being trained to help in chopper airlifts.

The Department of Natural Resource's Aviation Unit performs only one or two air rescues a year, but they want their Rangers to know how to render aid using the helicopters.

 At Veterans State Park 36 South Georgia Rangers got hands on experience. Aviation Unit Chief Pilot Major Mike Thompson said "We wouldn't really anticipate any disaster like they had in New York and we hope it doesn't happen again. But we've got this capability and we're trying to make everybody aware of it and able to use it."

The DNR helicopter would only be used to lift out victims where time or terrain make it impossible for ground rescue. The Rangers were taught to circle the victim, giving the copter a good target. It lifts in the stretcher. The Rangers release the stretcher, and the aircraft circles the area. The rangers strap in the victim, then hook it back to the chopper's tether rope, and aid it's liftoff.

Ranger First Class Tommy Lawrence said "The air from the motors, it was very cold. It was kinda nerve-wracking not knowing what to expect."

Sgt. Wade Law said "It gives you the confidence to know exactly what has to be done in that situation. You don't have to wait for someone to call you on the radio or tell you. You know exactly what to do."

Most helicopter rescues are done in North Georgia mountains or remote areas of military bases. But the Aviation Unit knows it could be called to Southwest Georgia in case of floods, tornadoes, or tropical storms. Besides rescue work  the state's 3 helicopters are also used for transporting public officials, firefighting and law enforcement, and aerial photography. They're based in Atlanta and St. Simon's Island. Georgia's Department of Natural Resources Rangers are being trained to conduct air rescues as part of the new Homeland Security Act.

DNR agents training in Albany believe this will be a good addition to their current mission. The DNR has three helicopters, two based near Atlanta, and one at St. Simons Island. These Bell 407 choppers are designed to carry six people, and are shared by the Governor's office.

Thursday marked the first training session, with six more to come, until all the Rangers are trained.

posted at 6:11PM by jimw@walb.com