"We didn't really have anything on landing in our policies," Cartersville Fire Department's Lt. Shannon Horn said. "We just want to make sure we're doing everything safe and right and maybe have these trainings once a year."
Horn saw the need for a solid policy on landing zones and the safety procedures for emergency situations where air lifting is necessary to save a patient's life. After taking the idea to Chief Scott Carter, a policy was added to the department's Standard Operating Procedures and is being implemented by Horn.
"There's been some things change just in the last 15 years since I've been here like the hand signals," Horn said. "We've hired some new people and we just want to make sure we're all on the same page."
The helicopter firefighters and EMS personnel worked with is based out of McCollum Airport in Cobb County. Air Life Business Manager Russell McDaniel said that the group was contacted after Horn saw the need for the new policy.
"We come out any time, day or night," McDaniel said. "We land on streets and ball fields and what have you. So it's important that everybody that's involved has an awareness of what goes on in a helicopter, what to look out for, obstacles [like] wires, trees [and] lights."
During the training session, Terry Terrell, Air Life pilot, told emergency responders not to feel slighted if the landing zone chosen by ground crews is not the one air response lands at.
"Sometimes, we select a better landing zone than what you did just because we can see better from the air," Terrell said. "But, y'all may have limitations [in the ability to move the patient], so just tell us."
While instructing the fire and EMS personnel on things to look out for in landing zones, Terrell said obstacles such as trees or downed power lines could delay response time.
"Let us know ahead of time of landing," Terrell said.
The training expanded over a three-day course, providing the opportunity for each shift to participate in a hands-on environment.