Aug 14, 2010 8:46 PM
"These are considered probably the highest risk evolutions that rescue agencies do," explained Captain Ed Stopper from Butte County Sheriff Search and Rescue.
A risky but successful day for the Butte Inter-Agency Rescue Group. The team consists of members from Butte County Sheriff Search and Rescue, Chico Fire, Butte County/ Cal- Fire, Oroville Fire and Paradise Fire. About 12 people met Saturday morning for their semi-annual "Helo Aquatic Rescue Training." "This is a great opportunity, something that is kind of unique to Butte County that we've been operating for almost ten years now and it's become a great resource for our rescue teams," Stopper stated.
Crews practiced dynamic water pick-offs, where a victim was rescued from the river using a helicopter and carried to safety. Captain Stopper says the drills give crews the chance to work together with other agencies, a crucial skill on busy days like labor day. "Most of these trainings and everything leading up to it is in preparation for labor day, it is our big event of the year for the river."
There are many dangers to watch out for when on the river including hypothermia, alcohol poisoning or getting caught on a snag. "If it was appropriate for a helicopter, we would rig our helicopter with a 150 short haul line, attach a rescuer and rescue ring to that line and fly that person in."
Several rescues are done each year on the river, both with boat and helicopter. Captain Stopper says the Sunday before Labor Day is expected to be the most crowded on the river. Facebook has become a popular way for students to coordinate the event.