CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - Charlotte County first responders put new rescue technique and tools to the test in the sky over Punta Gorda this morning.
Wink News was on the ground and saw how this combined training will save time, money and lives. "On every rescue, every second counts!" said Deputy Chief Jason Fair with Charlotte County Fire/EMS.
He says a helicopter is the ultimate off-road vehicle. "It provides us the ability to both insert rescuers and extract patients and rescuers from those hard to reach areas."
Thursday morning, ten emergency responders from the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, Fire and EMS gathered for their first day of what's called long-line rescue training.
"This is a new skill set for us. It's a huge skill set for us. But it's a huge asset to the citizens of Charlotte County," Deputy Fair said.
Air personnel use hand signals to help guide the helicopter pilot to the victim below.
"The pilot is not able to see where the victim is and he's not able to see where that rope is. It takes really close communication between them and the tactical flight officer in the back to get it right where it needs to go," he said.
Rescuers hoisted the mannequin more than two hundred feet off the ground, to simulate a real-life rescue.
"As you get out to the real world you have trees, structures, power lines, wind issues," said Charlotte County Sheriff's Office Pilot Robert Steht.
Tactical flight operations like this one will be used to pull victims stuck on roof-tops, in open water, or in areas of Charlotte County where taking back roads can waste valuable time.
"We are ready to employ the rescue if it's needed right away."
The training is new to Charlotte County but the helicopter and most of the equipment was already owned by CCSO and the Fire Department.
It cost nearly $10,000 for the two day training session.
The training will also be used to battle brush fires.