A helicopters could be used to get firefighters quickly to the scene of canal and river rescues, traffic accidents and building collapses if trials by Avon Fire and Rescue Service are successful.
A series simulated rescues are taking place with a crew of four firefighters and rescue equipment being flown to the scene of ten simulated emergencies across the Avon area. Once on scene the firefighters will be able to use specialist equipment to begin a rescue or give first aid.
Helicopters are used extensively in other European countries but if the scheme is adopted by Avon they will be the first fire and rescue service in the UK to use one.
Avon Fire & Rescue Service Chief Fire Office Kevin Pearson believes helicopters could give long term efficiencies and improved casualty care: “Fire and rescue is the only emergency service not to use helicopters," he said, "and fifteen years ago we couldn’t have contemplated an idea like this, but advances in technology mean that rescue equipment is now lighter and more powerful and I believe we can now fit enough onto a helicopter to provide an effective response".
A Eurocopter EC145 is being provided with a crew and fuel free of charge for the five-day trial.