empire air evac drill

First responders and fire fighters in Empire watch the air evac life team land before a landing zone training.

First responders in Empire received their annual training on landing zones through an Air Evac drill hosted earlier this week.

The landing zone training with the Air Evac Life Team features pilot Joshua Langdon, medic Josh Morgan and flight nurse Melissa Dearing.

The training in Empire occurred Tuesday, but the same team has also visited Marlow and will probably check in with other cities as well.

Langdon said the most important part when it comes to landing an aircraft for someone in serious medical need is constant communication.

“At night, we absolutely cannot land without talking to you guys,” Langdon said. “We’ll circle over head for hours and hours until we make two way radio communication. Once I make radio communication, I can land, but until then I can’t.”

From a communication standpoint, those in the chopper use radio channels, including digital channels, and have a way to program in individual channels for cities. For Empire first responders, the pilot will switch over to the Empire Fire station about five miles out.

Langdon said there’s no such thing as too much information for the pilot, either. Most importantly, pilot’s are looking for information on wires, telephone lines, obstacles and to make sure they have enough proximity to the accident or space in an area nearby to land.

“Just describe what you see in plain sight,” Langdon said. “We know what we need, don’t think anything is too little of a detail. Wires most importantly.”

The pilot told first responders and fire fighters they have to land in the wind. Additionally, the bird cannot land on any slope. Tall grass is okay, but before landing first responders expecting the Air Evac Team should walk the area to check for obstacles to avoid damage to the belly of the craft.

The helicopter allows for 100 feet by 100 feet clearance.

“The bigger the area, the better,” Langdon said. “Half a football field will do.”

Additionally, those landing will need to beware if the area is muddy, dusty or has hay. Langdon said landing in these areas can either get the bird stuck or make it to where the pilot can’t see to land.

When it comes to addressing the patient’s needs, there’s a certain way to load the patient into the craft. Because the Air Evac Life Team medic knows what to do in these situations, the medic will take the helm of the care. Medic Morgan told those in attendance it could take three to four people to help load the aircraft. Morgan said they will advise who needs to help his team, told them no loose clothing like hats would be allowed for safety reasons, and advised any blankets or sheets on the patient being loaded into the craft would need to be strapped down.

The training also went over how to handle a situation where the Surgical Extraction Team (SET) is needed and what will happen when it comes to bringing a surgeon into the scene.

Fire fighters and first responders got an up close look at the chopper and went over details of how to load a patient into the craft.