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Vt, NY crews share air rescue training - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt, NY crews share air rescue training

Lake Clear, New York - August 24, 2011

Vermont and New York police and rescue personnel are working together to facilitate helicopter rescues in the future. Recent events have prompted the two bordering state agencies along with local technical rescue personnel to begin training together for chopper rescues.

"Last year, we got a request from Stowe Mountain Rescue to assist them with a rescue they had in the Stowe area, where they had a subject deep in the backcountry. It would have been a long and treacherous carry out, through the Vermont State Police, they requested the aviation NY State Police helicopter," said Lt. Gary Friedrich of the N.Y. State Forest Rangers.

Because few people are trained for that type of rescue in Vermont, New York had to drop their own trained ranger into the treacherous rescue site, forcing the helicopter to hover longer overhead and increasing the risk for accidents.

"Helicopter evacuations are inherently dangerous and it's important that you keep up on the skills so when you're under the gun and things are under pressure, things go smoothly and safely," said Doug Veliko of Stowe Mountain Rescue.

This past Sunday, rescuers from Colchester Technical Rescue and Stowe Mountain Rescue traveled to the Adirondacks to get more experience.

If you've had an accident in the mountains or just made a poor decision this kind of training for mountain rescue is exactly what could put you at ease.

Each member experienced winching from the ground 70 feet up into the chopper. They practiced lowering to the ground. And they worked as teams of two, steering a rescue litter into the hovering craft.

"You guys on the ground are helping to steer it into that little narrow spot and if it starts to spin one way or another, you're doing your best to control that," said Joe LaPierre of New York Forest Rangers.

A training exercise that is very real as the helicopter noise hampers communication and rotor wash slows getting people into the helicopter.

"The crew chief is the eyes and ears in back of the ship, and we as hoist operators need somebody that we can be confident on the ground can hook up the patient or the litter to the system that we've already worked with and developed, so we need that trained personnel on the ground to effect the rescue," Friedrich explained.

So, thanks to the help of New York State police and rangers, Vermont State now has more trained people ready to save lives in treacherous areas.

"By having those trained people familiar with the system, it makes our job easier," Friedrich said.

Better prepared for a type of rescue they hope isn't needed.

Alden Pellett - WCAX News

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