Wheeling Firefighters Receive Helicopter Training

More than a dozen of Wheeling’s firefighters attended a special training session Wednesday designed to help them keep both patients and the public safe when medical helicopters respond to an emergency.

The day included a classroom session at fire department headquarters in Center Wheeling, as well as field training at Bridge Park on Wheeling Island.

Information covered included how to approach an aircraft properly, spotlight training, risk management and landing zone safety.

Air Evac Lifeteam of Wetzel County provided the Bell 206 long ranger helicopter used for the event.

“The reason we do (the training) is to work with departments in the area so that we have a safe landing and loading of our patients and to stay safe,” said Michael Conners, program director for Air Evac Lifeteam. “Bringing a helicopter into an area is dangerous enough on a helipad, but coming into a scene where it is a different landing zone, it definitely takes a little more coordination. … Once a disaster happens, this is the type of education that will save lives.”

Philip Stahl, the fire department’s public information officer, played the victim in the mock exercise on Wheeling Island.

Those onboard the air craft with Stahl included the pilot, a flight paramedic and flight nurse.

Flight paramedic Joy Raper said the training is valuable for first responders.

“This is something that is needed because when someone is in a life-or-death situation, we can not only get them somewhere safe, but we can keep them safe while en route,” Raper said.

Assistant Fire Chief Jim Blazier has been a part of these seminars in the past and believes there is no such thing as too much training.


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