Two Texas Army National Guard helicopters landed at Brayton Fire Training Field on April 1 as part of the National Helicopter Search & Rescue Workshop sponsored by Texas Task Force 1 (TX-TF1) and the Texas Army National Guard. Attendees represented government, military and civilian search-and-rescue organizations from more than 30 states as far away as Alaska and Maine.
The Task Force configured the UH-60 Blackhawk and the LUH-72 Lakota as if they were going to a disaster situation so teams could see and interact with the equipment, and ask questions.
The first-of-its-kind program provided the opportunity for participants to share knowledge and best practices for situations where helicopters are the preferred search-and-rescue tool, said Brett Dixon, TX-TF1 Helicopter Search and Rescue (HSAR) Program Manager, who coordinated the workshop. “It was an opportunity for the participants to observe how other organizations do it, and pick out what (tools and techniques) will work best for them,” he added.
The two-day workshop also included a keynote address by Chief Nim Kidd of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, as well as group presentations, break-out sessions and vendor displays.
“We also wanted to showcase the partnerships that currently exist between state National Guard air units
and civilian SAR (Search & Rescue) teams, such as the relationship between Texas Task Force 1 and Texas Military Forces,” Dixon said.
States without dedicated helicopter SAR capability had the opportunity to explore the process for developing these civilian/military partnerships when they return home, he added.
The workshop allowed various organizations to interact and learn from each other. “Every state does it a little bit different…we’ve already picked up on a number of different opportunities to improve our program,” said Colonel Jeff Copeland of the North Carolina Army National Guard. Watch KAGS-TV video.