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Central Pa. firefighters train with military helicopters

The Pennsylvania National Guard teaches Central Pa. firefighters about military helicopters in the event of an accident

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. — On Wednesday, over a hundred firefighters from throughout central Pa. gathered at Fort Indiantown Gap for emergency training, each one learning about the different military helicopters that fly from the base.

“They’re going through four stations, which include orientation to the CH-47 Shanook, the UH-60 Blackhawk, and UH-72 Lakota," said Aviation Safety Officer Danielle Watkins.

Watkins says this is the first-time local fire departments were brought on base for this kind of training.

“We brought them here to build a relationship, report with them, to talk about the important things to note," said Watkins.

The goal of the program is to get fire crews familiar with these complex military helicopters, so they know what to do in case of an emergency.

“Their goal, obviously, is life-saving measures and wanting to help as much as possible," said Watkins. "But also our responsibility is to educate them to protect their safety too when they arrive, so they know some things to watch out for.”

“This is a good opportunity for the locals, who don’t get a chance to see this type of aircraft," said Chief Wilson.

Chief Donald Wilson with the Fort Indiantown Gap Fire Department says the basic training will hopefully get firefighters interested in more advanced military helicopter safety training.

“Maybe they whet their appetite where they want to get more in-depth training, and there are a few places in the country that do offer that training," said Chief Wilson.

Colonel Tim Zerbe says the training will also help members of the Pa. National Guard better perform their jobs.

“We are citizen soldiers. We live among and are very proud that we live with the community," said Colonel Zerbe. "Their understanding and our transparency with them are critical to us continuing and relationship, serving the community, the Commonwealth, and even the nation.”

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