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Helicopter training a ‘win-win’ for residents

Several fire and rescue departments came together for a helicopter training exercise demonstrated by the Alabama State Troopers and hosted by the West Chilton Fire Department on May 20.

The exercise involved a search and rescue simulation and focused on the proper approaches and techniques for certain situations that involve hard-to-reach places.

In the event that a rescue situation arose where the injured person was in a wooded or secluded area, the local departments have the ability to call the state aviation unit for assistance.

The West Chilton Fire Department serves as the host of such a training event at least once a year.

According to Susan Smith, EMS chief at West Chilton, the main purpose for the event is to make sure that there is a plan in place for event the worst possible situations.

“We’re trying to train constantly to keep up our skills,” Smith said. “Everybody gets excited to prepare.”

Other fire and rescue departments from the northern end of the county were on hand to take part.

“We were one of the first fire departments in the county to start something like this,” Smith said. “It’s always a big event.”

According to chief pilot Lee Hamilton, there is always something to be gained from training of any kind.

“We accomplish our proficiency and mutual response training with other agencies,” Hamilton said. “Our job is to support our surrounding fire and rescue departments and the law enforcement agencies.”

Proper and concise communication was stressed throughout the exercises, because the response time of a situation is dependent upon it.

“It makes them [departments] familiar with what tools are at their disposal and allows us to sharpen our techniques,” Hamilton said. “It’s a win-win for the citizens of the state and particularly this area.”

Hamilton and his crew are based out of Montgomery, but other bases of operation also include Cullman and Fairhope.

“We’re spread out throughout the state so that it produces less response time,” Hamilton said.

Lunch was provided for all those who took part in the training process.

Anticipation of next year’s training was already filling the air, after it was found out that the troopers have plans to bring their Huey helicopter.