DPS helicopter crews train for water rescue calls - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

DPS helicopter crews train at Lake Pleasant for water rescue calls

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Water rescues can turn deadly in an instant that's why members of the Arizona Department of Public Safety Aviation Unit practiced their skills at this water rescue drill Wednesday at Lake Pleasant.

"We're doing it as close as we can and still conduct it in a safe environment, we've got our safety checks in place" said Officer/Paramedic Russ Dodge with DPS.

The challenging scenario is to pull passengers out of a vehicle that's submerged in the water. Crews use DPS helicopters to rehearse these overhead rescues right above the lake.

"For a long time helicopters were an absolute last resort for rescues because of the high risk" said Officer Dodge.

But that risk is minimized because of drills like this. This staged event designed to look like a real accident and the crews practice every year to keep their skills sharp.

"We want to try and conduct lifelike rescues in a safe environment. Every year we have people driving into flooded properties and we have fatalities every year in Arizona" said Officer Dodge. 

One person was safely plucked out of the water during a dramatic rescue in the summer of 2012. For newer members of the team the first time they pull someone out of a flooded car should be during a drill.

"So that they can say we've gone out there and we've worked in this environment. We've gotten out of the helicopter onto a car top. We've hung out on the rope onto a vehicle and we can do this rescue" said Officer Dodge.

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