NFPD practices chopper landing

Barbara Lawlor, Nederland.  Last Saturday morning, June 24, 2017 a helicopter circled over Nederland, flying lower and lower and then hovered over Guercio Ball Field north of Barker Reservoir. It landed, guided in by Nederland Fire Protection District firefighters.

A while later, the chopper rose, blowing a cyclone of dust below it until it gained elevation and then zoomed away. It wasn’t too long before it returned, once again signaled in by a firefighter waving a bright flag. The cycle repeated itself.


Each time the helicopter landed, a great deal of communication went on between the pilot and the people on the ground. Learning how to speak to the pilots, knowing how to describe where the ball field was, what to look for in the way of hazards, and a description of injuries or medical conditions is something that needs to be learned and then practiced. And the only way to do that is to do it, over and over again.


Saturday’s training involved the North Colorado Medivac and its crew and a group of NFPD recruits, who got to take a ride, get a glimpse of what a landing zone looks like from the sky and how it feels to be a patient.


The ground looks much different when one is flying over the area and the ball field, which seems large when standing on it, but much smaller and less distinguishable from above. NFPD chief Rick Dirr says it is important to the pilots and crew to participate in the practice with the firefighters, to familiarize themselves with the area and the most commonly used landing zone.


The pilots also learn about the power lines on East Street.


“Every couple of years we have brand new information for the recruits and for the medivac crews, so it is important to do this training,” says Chief Dirr.


A group of spectators enjoyed watching the maneuvers, admiring the skill of the pilots, and the ground crew that guided the choppers safely onto the landing zone.



(Originally published in the June 29, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.