First responders based in the US territory of Guam, including from Joint Region Marianas (JRM), Naval Base Guam (NBG) and Helicopter Sea-Combat Squadron 25 (HSC-25) participated in aerial wildland firefighting coordination training at the Naval Magazine, Santa Rita, on 19 April.
The training was intended to improve the air to ground interoperability of firefighting crews in future responses to wildfires in the territory.
During the training, HSC-25 crew members familiarized personnel from JRM and NBG’s Fire and Emergency Services (FES) division with the use of its 420-gallon Bambi bucket.
HSC-25 also discussed radio communications with its counterparts, as well as explaining how to extract helicopter personnel in the event of an emergency landing.
HSC-25 Senior Chief Naval Aircrewman Brandon Stotts also said that the training also helped ground-based firefighters understand the limitations of aerial firefighting.
“JRM and federal fighters do this as their primary mission, but this is probably a second or tertiary mission for us,” he said. “We enjoy helping out, we want to help out, and this coordination team meeting lets them understand our capabilities, and limitations, and our availability as well.”
The training will enable better coordination between emergency responders
JRM Region Fire Chief Christopher Connelly said: “Having a bird’s eye view can actually give us a little better direction of where the fire’s moving, who’s actually going to be threatened, and it’ll help us organize our thought process should any kind of evacuation start needing to be held.”
Connelly added that ‘to be able to launch the US Navy aircraft and get water deployed in a quicker manner… we don’t necessarily have to go as deep into the wildland fire and put some of our crews at risk as well’. He said that he looked forward to further integrating FES capabilities with HSC-25 to support mutual aid missions in the region.
“We have paramedics that are assigned to the fire engines, and we have an ability to bring [advanced life support] to the helicopter squadron,” he said. “So, we’re going to start working with the crews so we can actually board the aircraft in the event that they need our services, and potentially service the community a little better.”
In AirMed&Rescue’s April issue, Eder Navacerrada explored how aerial firefighting crews can employ ADS-B to improve coordination and traffic awareness.