GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It is not every day first responders get a call about a helicopter crash, especially in South Mississippi, but when the call comes in responders must know exactly what to do. Officials said emergency workers' preparedness and teamwork paid off in big ways Monday.
"Helicopter crash, people were trapped and there was a fire," Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) Assistant Fire Chief Rusty Shoultz said.
Last week, that was just a mock drill firefighters at the CRTC were unexpectedly called out to. Monday, the scenario became real life.
"Literally seconds can be the difference between life and death as in yesterday. Probably one of the key things that enhanced the individual's chance of survival was there were trained responders in the immediate area who immediately formulated a plan, assured they were safe, and removed that occupant of the aircraft to safety," Shoultz said.
Some of the same firefighters who trained with Shoultz days ago were the first on the scene of the fatal crash in Harrison County. They grabbed specialized equipment off the fire trucks, and together with the other first responders everyone immediately sprang into action.
"The jurisdictional boundaries have to drop when something major happens and everyone comes together for the common goal and that's to save lives," Shoultz said.
Teamwork and training Shoultz said saves lives.
"An aviation emergency such as a helicopter crash those incidents have very, very high consequence of life threats not just to the occupants but to the responders," Shoultz said.
Monday all emergency responders stayed safe and one of the passengers was rescued.
"That is very rare in these types of events and it was only because of collaboration and partnerships," Shoultz said.
Saucier, Lizanna, Gulfport and Biloxi firefighters all recently completed the aviation emergency response training and Harrison County volunteer firefighters are scheduled to do the training next week.
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