Make the McKenzie Connection!

Blackhawk to beef up rescues

From the May 9, 2001 edition of McKenzie River Reflections

Blackhawk helicopterWALTERVILLE: A black helicopter made repeated runs over the McKenzie River last Saturday, drawing a crowd to find out what was going on west of Hendricks Wayside Park. What they saw was a training exercise involving crews from McKenzie Fire & Rescue and the Army National Guard’s 1042 unit.

During the exercise the Blackhawk chopper was called in to assist ground crews staged near a simulated victim on a log jam. First two medics were lowered from the air. After a stretcher was rigged, the helicopter hoisted a dummy aboard and flew to Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene. Returning, the ship landed so volunteers could practice loading a second “victim” aboard.

John Phelps was part of the Guard team based at McNary Airfield in Salem and no stranger to the McKenzie. He’s recently moved back to the area and is a firefighter with Springfield Fire & Safety. Next week he’ll become a McKenzie Fire & Rescue volunteer as well.

That sort of connection is the sort of thing Phelps said his commander is looking for and part of the rationale behind Saturday’s training session. With the Air National Guard pulling their squadron out of Portland the Army National Guard is moving to fill in the gaps.

Its likely people will see the Blackhawk flying more missions in the future - both for training and under actual Medivac conditions. In addition, another helicopter has been fitted with a 1,000 gallon water tank for fighting fires. That aircraft was also equipped with a thousand gallon per minute pump, meaning it can swoop down over a waterway and scoop up a full load in sixty seconds.


McKenzie River Reflections


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