Firefighters Practice Helicopter Rescue With Oklahoma National Guard

Thursday, December 5th 2019, 9:31 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Members of Oklahoma Task Force One, an urban search and rescue unit, practiced rescue work today with a helicopter with the Oklahoma Army National Guard.

The Firefighters from Tulsa and Oklahoma City are polishing skills they've used as recently as this summer.

The training firefighters rescuing each other, again and again, from a balcony at the Tulsa Fire Training Center. Firefighter John Stapleton said it takes a lot of concentration to get hooked into the harness.

"It's when you relax that you begin to think, whoa I'm just hanging here, but then you think, how can I be more efficient and do it better next time,” Stapleton said.

The helicopters are from the Oklahoma Army National Guard. During a disaster, they work together with the fire departments, as Oklahoma Task Force One. Each month, the task force members practice specific skills - in this case, using a basket to rescue people from a balcony, or maybe just the rope and harness.

The helicopters crew is training too - fighting a strong wind as they try to stay steady over the rescue. Captain Terry Sivadon leads the Task Force.

"These helicopters and these rescuers can reach hard to access areas, mountains, places you can't get a normal vehicle to,” Sivadon said.

The Task Force used all these skills during the flooding this summer, so it's important practice. They've deployed to hurricanes far away - and tornadoes closer to home.