Smokejumpers parachute into some of the most rugged and remote areas of the country; it's why they jump in the first place. In these conditions, it's a difficult task to get an injured firefighter to safety. Many times the only way to accomplish this is by helicopter.
Today in Missoula, Smokejumpers got a first-hand look at the new MedStar helicopter serving the area; the one that would come to get them across much of western Montana.
Reviews by the firefighters are positive. Protective shielding around the tail propeller makes it safer to load the injured and rear doors make it easier to load the injured.
Medical personnel and fire crews practiced loading the helicopter. The purpose of Tuesday's exercise is to familiarize everyone with the vehicle so they can act quickly when a real emergency comes.
As one firefighter said, "Your nerves are typically frayed when you're having to medevac someone from a fire incident."
They hope to shave precious seconds when it really counts.