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Letter: Fair rumor turned out to be landing zone safety training, he says

TO THE EDITOR: Did you hear what happened on Aug. 10 at the fairgrounds, in the village or just outside of it?

Apparently this was quite the topic of conversation at the fair. People were full of questions and rumors as to why all the helicopters coming and going from the highway department grounds on the evening in question. As is the case with most rumors, the truth isn't nearly as exciting as one would hope.

North Memorial Air Care was in town providing landing zone safety training for local ambulance service, fire department and law enforcement members. There was a one-hour class at the Ellsworth Fire Department, followed by practicing of "hot loads" at the highway department. Hot loads are aero medical speak for loading a patient into a running helicopter. The hot loading procedure requires strict adherence to safety protocols, which were covered in the classroom setting before the helicopter landed. Also covered in the classroom portion was the importance of selecting a safe landing zone as well as communications with the flight crew.

After the training was over, six trainees were given the opportunity to go for a ride in the helicopter (two at a time). One of the people selected for a ride said he can now check an item off his bucket list. The other people selected to go for a ride were equally enthusiastic. Once the rides were over, community members who had been drawn to the highway shop to see what all the activity was about were allowed to tour the helicopter and ask questions of the flight crew.

The classroom training was provided by Debby Fischer, Community Representative for North Memorial Air Care. Members of the flight crew were pilot Larry Larson, flight nurse Mark Hagen and flight paramedic Joe Palmieri.