Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue used a dike near Pitt Lake as a launching area on Saturday to teach new recruits and retrain veterans the skills needed to enter an exit a hovering helicopter when out in the field.
About 25 local members took part in the training session that lasted about four hours. A dozen of them were brand new recruits.
“For the new members it’s new working around a running helicopter,” said Brent Boulet, team leader with the Ridge Meadows rescue team.
Normally the training exercise would take place at Vancouver International Airport, however, this year they decided to fly participants directly into the field for a more practical training experience.
From Pitt Meadows participants were flown into Golden Ears park, Alouette Mountain, and other parts of Pitt Lake.
“Just so that they can get the experience of being dropped off in the field and calling for pick up by the helicopter and getting flown out,” explained Boulet.
Before the training session there was a safety briefing. Then participants ran through the skills of learning how to get into and out of a helicopter that is hovering a couple feet off the ground.
Boulet explained that sometimes a helicopter in the field can’t always touch down. The terrain could be uneven or rough and so the pilot needs to hover and there’s a process to do that safely – only one person gets in or out at a time and everything has to be done very slow so that the pilot, because of the fact that he’s hovering, needs to compensate for the weight change of people getting into the helicopter and sliding across to another seat.
This is the most common way Search and Rescue members enter and exit a helicopter and because of the inherent risks the training is done yearly so every member of the team stays familiar with this skill, said Boulet.
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