By Staff Sgt. Jacob Morgan
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 21st Civil Engineer Squadron fire prevention team took time here June 13 to learn more about the Flight for Life Colorado program in the local area.
The training aims to teach the local fire prevention team skills to help land and safely load the patient aboard the aircraft.
The refresher training brought together the two teams to discuss landing zone, approach, communication, and standard operating and patient loading procedures in the event the two teams had a mutual response.
“We try to do a lot of training with our mutual aid partners,” said Craig Powell, 21st Fire Department assistant chief of training. “We have mutual aid agreements around the area; when we work with that many agencies it is important to have a solid working relationship.”
Flight for Life Colorado is an air ambulance and critical care transport service operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many of its members are former service members, who continue to serve. The team consisted of three members; the clinic educator, a pilot and a paramedic to facilitate the training.
The interaction between the two teams does not happen often, but when it does the 21st Fire Department wants to be ready. The handoff of patients happens quickly and there are many dangerous obstacles involved.
“They are our flight nurses and paramedics and help us because they have a higher level of care,” said Powell. “In the event we need them, we need to get it right.”
First, the team on scene will recognize the need to have rapid transport, said Powell. Flight for Life Colorado will ask for a landing location and a frequency to speak to the ground team. The landing zone must be clear and flat, and the fire team needs to be able to talk the Flight for Life Colorado team into its landing. Once they land, the fire team works with the Flight for Life Colorado paramedics to safely load the patient onto the aircraft; moments later, the aircraft will lift off and be on the way to emergency care.
“Helicopter safety for all folks involved is extremely important. We want everyone involved to have increased knowledge of helicopter operations,” said Lisa Wagner, Flight for Life Colorado clinical educator 2. “This team is great, they are asking a lot of questions, they are very interactive and truly want to know how to help us do our job. It’s very important for us to get together and see each other.”
The training lasted about an hour before the Flight for Life Colorado team was activated to transport a patient.
“Just the simple fact of recognizing someone’s face will put the first responder at ease because the report is established,” said Powell. “To do that, we have to train together. All of the response partners we work with benefit us tremendously. In the end, it produces positive results. The guys got a lot of good experience.”