Crouching low, the flight assistants ran across the meadow directly under the police helicopter. The rotors turned relentlessly, communication was only possible by hand signal or via headphones and radio – it was simply too loud. A few professional moves and the helicopter took off again. On the long rope swung the attached box.
This scenario was repeated over and over again on the meadow above the wegfurt sports home. It was this year’s air rescue mission of the bischofsheim fire department with the police helicopter squadron from roth. The commander of the bischofsheim fire department christian hoenen was in charge of the operation.
Because of corona only alone
Actually, it should have been the joint exercise of the flight helper groups of the fire departments bischofsheim and aschaffenburg. But due to corona, a joint exercise was renounced, the bischofsheimer practiced this year alone. Not only the trained flight assistants of the bischofsheim fire department were involved in this exercise, but also "ground personnel" from the wegfurt and frankenheim fire departments.
Hoenen explained that he deliberately chose a combination of aircrew and ground crews to give firefighters with no experience of air operations a chance to get to grips with the issues. A large forest fire on the kreuzberg was assumed, which was fought both from the air and from the ground. At the "ground staff A distinction was made between firefighters who were fighting the fire and load assistants who were working under the helicopter together with flight assistants.
Load assistants were allowed to work only together with the flight assistants. Here, firefighters from the frankenheim and wegfurt fire departments took turns to gain their first experience.
Nothing works without okay
"Duck and run fast", janina mai summarized. "When I ran to the helicopter for the first time, it hit me hard." The crouched posture helps to stabilize the body. "Until we get the okay from the technician in the helicopter, we are not allowed to go", she explained. At the signal of the hand, the three emergency workers started running. This time, various options for helicopter deployment were discussed. "We have attached and detached various burdens", declared hoes. The combination with the police helicopter squadron is ideal, because they also need a certain number of hours of load lifting.
The bischofsheim fire department has ten flight assistants who completed their training at the firefighting school in wurzburg. There are currently 17 fire department locations in bavaria that can provide trained flight assistants. One of them is bischofsheim, the only one in the rhon-grabfeld district, the next ones being wurzburg and aschaffenburg.
Since 1998, the bischofsheim fire department has had an aerial tank capable of holding 5,000 liters of water. However, this container was designed in such a way that it could only be transported by a federal helicopter. Today, he is at the wurzburg firefighting school for training purposes. Since 2017, the bischofsheim fire brigade now has two smaller aerial tankers, each with a capacity of 900 liters, which can be brought to emergency scenes by any helicopter.
Combination of ground and air operations
As hoenen explained, fighting a forest or moorland fire is always a combination of ground and aerial operations: ground forces to extinguish the roots and trunks, and aerial operations to fight the fire in the treetops from above. In the case of air operations, there are two types of firefighting, direct and indirect. In the case of direct, the transported water would be drained from the air above the source of the fire, almost like rain. In the indirect method, the helicopter transports water to a water tank and supplies the fire department on the scene with fire water.
But it was not only the transport of water, but also of various loads such as a pump and hoses, that was on the agenda of the exercise. "It was about transporting material quickly from A to B. In difficult terrain, an approach often takes far too long." At the end of the day, hoenen was satisfied with the flight assistance provided. In times of climate change, it is important to address the issue of forest fires. "The risk of forest fires is also increasing in the rhon. In addition, with the black and red moors, we have two moors that continue to dry up. The fire risk is also increasing here, and the area is not passable by vehicles."