An NAS Whidbey Island search and rescue crew trained with Olympic Mountain Rescue
(NAS WHIDBEY ISLAND)– A crew from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island Search and Rescue (SAR) flew to Bremerton National Airport to meet and train with approximately 30 members of Olympic Mountain Rescue (OMR) on Saturday, May 18.
The two teams began the day with a discussion about their respective capabilities and discussed past joint missions, prior to engaging in field training and live training exercises with an operating rescue helicopter.
“For each of the last three years the NAS Whidbey SAR team has come to our backyard (Bremerton Airport) and provided exactly the type of training we need,” said Dan Prince, Training Coordinator for Olympic Mountain Rescue.
Olympic Mountain Rescue, a group of volunteer climbers dedicated to wilderness rescue and mountain safety education, is one of nine Mountain Rescue Association units that operate in Washington State.
Prince said that because OMR frequently works with helicopters in the field during rescue missions, they are required to conduct periodic familiarization training with a live helicopter.
“In addition to satisfying Washington State training requirements for rescue workers, I believe the mutual training goes a long way towards building confidence to operate together in the field,” said Prince. “We have been involved in many SAR missions as ground support for NAS Whidbey helicopter rescues over the last few years and I’ve seen firsthand the benefit of this type of mutual training."
The NAS Whidbey Island SAR team highlighted the night vision, high altitude, hoist, rappel, and medical and all-weather capabilities of the Navy team.
During the field-training evolution, the NAS Whidbey Island SAR team displayed the array of medical and rescue equipment available during a rescue, while members of OMR had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Sikorsky MH-60S helicopter.
The final evolution was live training, where the OMR team was able to deliver a rescue litter to and from an operating helicopter. Commander James Udall, Officer-in-Charge, NAS Whidbey Island SAR, said the teams both value this style of training because it offers a controlled environment to ask questions or explain procedures in better detail.
NASWI SAR, which flies the Sikorsky MH-60S, conducts many table top and field training exercises with regional search and rescue partners annually to introduce new team members, accomplish joint training and reinforce partnerships with search and rescue organizations from across the region.