WATCH: First responders practice rope rescues by helicopter

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MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. (WIAT) — First responders from several different Alabama agencies gathered at Rathmell Park on Wednesday to train on rope rescues by air.

Battalion Chief Patrick Dean with the Mountain Brook Fire Dept. told CBS 42 the training was part of a week-long course on rope rescues and Wednesday’s training with a helicopter was made possible by state troopers with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

First responders got a first-hand look at rescues from environments including an open field, the woods and from the top of a building. Chief Dean said air rescues can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to transport someone to medical care after a rescue. 

“[It] can cut down on transport time anywhere for them 15 to 20 minutes of flight versus three or four hours for us to actually carry someone out of the woods, or off a river, and get them to medical aid,” Dean said. 

He said the firefighters in his department get refresher courses on rope rescues on a quarterly basis each year; however, the helicopter training was a treat for them.

“Once you do learn it, it’s a process that you have to continue training on to stay proficient,” Dean said. “When you add aircraft into it — extremely dangerous situation — and this is something you don’t want to just this be your first time to see the helicopter you’re using to be utilized to lift out.”

Dean also said the training helps members of different agencies get to know each other prior to responding to an actual emergency together so they can work better together in the future. 

“You meet these guys in these classes, you build a bond and so when you run into them out on calls somewhere else it kind of gives you that familiarity and you’ve worked with them before,” Dean said. “Having the state agency come in with the helicopter just allows us to get to know them.”

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