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Fire training takes flight

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Schriever Fire Department firefighters converse with flight crew members with UCHealth and Rocky Mountain Mobile Medical Unit at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, July 30, 2018. Firefighters had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with landing zones, equipment and procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

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Schriever fire department firefighters listen to Bill Denehan, left, pilot with the Reach Air Medical Services, explain proper protocol for helicopter landings during annual fire training with UCHealth at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, July 30, 2018. Paramedics from the Rocky Mountain Mobile Medical Unit attended the training to further understand their role in air evacuations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

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Firefighters from the Schriever Fire Department listen to Matthew Berland, right, explain the basics of an air evacuation during annual fire training at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, July 30, 2018. Berland helped firefighters familiarize themselves with loading procedures, landing zones and communication plans. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

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Shown is a mobile stretcher in a helicopter, used to transport patients at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, July 30, 2018. Schriever firefighters participate in this annual training to familiarize themselves with new equipment, procedures and protocol for an air rescue. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

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Schriever Fire Department firefighters watch as Matthew Bergland, flight paramedic with UCHealth, loads the stretcher onto a helicopter during annual fire training at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, July 30, 2018. Familiarizing themselves with the equipment used on the aircraft ensures firefighters can execute the mission as quickly as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Schriever Fire Department firefighters had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with a new air evacuation helicopter during an annual fire training with UCHealth and Rocky Mountain Mobile Medical at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, July 30.

Schriever firefighters were refreshed on shutdown procedures, landing zone procedures, expectations and communication plans.

Matthew Bergland, flight paramedic with UCHealth, explained the proper landing zone perimeters, both day and night, obstructions and possible obstacles.  

Bergland stressed the importance of identifying obstacles for the pilot and crew members in order to ensure a safe landing.

“We’re happy to hear you tell us those obstacles,” he said. “It’s an important step when we are preparing to land. We really appreciate you informing us.”

Other flight crew members then simulated loading procedures of a patient onto the aircraft.  

“We need to know what they expect of us so we can better have a seamless operation,” said Allen Perry, fire chief with the Schriever FD.

Members of the 50th Security Forces Squadron also attended the training.

“We coordinate with other agencies to ensure that if a situation like this does happen, maximum participation is required to ensure the operation goes smoothly,” Perry added.

Coordination with Rocky Mountain Mobile Medical, a mutual aid partner, is crucial when deciding whether to call Lifeline, or Flight for Flight, aircraft provided by UCHealth.

“We have a great partnership with them, they’re outstanding and we work really well together,” Perry said. “We’re essentially supporting them.”

Training behind the scenes is also important, as Perry said pre-planning ensures proper communication, sets expectations and establishes protocol.

“All of this is beneficial and helps us take better care of our Airmen,” he said. “The more ready we can be, and the customer service and delivery of our services will support the entire base.”

Stephen Hardman, firefighter with the Schriever FD, said trainings like these are important because they ensure patients are transported as quickly as possible.

Hardman added directions from the pilot and aircrew provide the firefighters important information and necessary communication protocol to eliminate confusion and wasted time.

“That’s the biggest reason we do this,” he said. “Our job is to take care of the patient. They need medical attention as soon as possible. They need doctors and surgeons.”

Although training takes time, in real-world situations, most procedures take just minutes.

“As long as you understand the landing zone and what the pilots want, it’s quick,” Hardman said. “Most of the calls are two minutes. That’s why we do this training, to execute in as little time a possible.”

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