News: TF Aviation teams up with CBS Fire Department
Story by Sgt. Samantha Parks
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – Task Force Aviation and the Camp Bondsteel Fire Department teamed together for a week-long training exercise from Aug. 12-15 at Camp Bondsteel.
The training refreshes each firefighter on skills necessary when responding to a downed aircraft and is conducted quarterly.
"Each day we have different crews from the fire department come out and extract crew members from a UH-60 Black Hawk," said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Gregory Kulick, a member of the Maryland National Guard and safety officer for Task Force Aviation. "They need to know how to get the crews out of the aircrafts safely and efficiently and get them to medical treatment."
The scenarios ranged from incapacitated pilots to engine fires and severely injured pilots. The trainers aimed to make the scenarios as realistic as possible.
"The training is for our guys to [practice] shutting down an aircraft, [safely] approach it and pulling out the victims," Assistant Fire Chief Srecko Stalatovic said. "Because you never know what can happen. We need to be up to date. Training is a key of success."
Agron Tahiri, firefighter with the Camp Bondsteel Fire Department, said the exercises went very well and felt the training was a good opportunity to learn from any mistakes they made.
"Through the training we develop skills and are ready for emergencies," Agron said. "If [we] do something wrong, then we know the next time, we are going to do better."
Kulick said participating in training like this is good for the pilots as well.
"A lot of the pilots that are here have never even gone through [this training], so it gets them confident that the fire department can get them out without hurting them, the occupants or the aircraft itself," Kulick said.
U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathan Edwards, a soldier with the Oregon National Guard and crew chief with the Air Medical Evacuation unit, played the role of an injured pilot during one exercise and said the firefighters did a good job getting him out of the helicopter.
"I've been in similar training situations like this before and they reacted very well," Edwards said.
Edwards added that while the fire department is here to train and continue learning, they also help bolster confidence among the crew chiefs and pilots.
"I didn't know they were so familiar with our controls, levers and switches," Edwards said.
Kulick said every scenario is a little bit different and that shows that the fire department knows what they are doing in any given situation.
Stalatovic added, "We've been here for 13 years and nothing major has happened. We [aim] to stop things before they happen."