MedStar Demonstrates New Helicopter Features for Smokejumpers - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

MedStar Demonstrates New Helicopter Features for Smokejumpers

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MISSOULA - Medical staff with Missoula's new air ambulance carrier MedStar demonstrated how their new helicopter can come to the aid of smokejumpers on wildfires this summer.

MedStar flight nurse Larry Peterman said the new EC135 helicopter's features will help speed things up in an emergency airlift situation.

"The loading system is different, it loads from the rear instead of from the side," he explained.

Peterman said the EC135 is a popular emergency medical helicopter throughout the country.

"It's a twin engine helicopter, it has a little more elbow room inside there for us to work on our patients."

Peterman said they're able to land the helicopter in a 60x60-foot space.

"It fits our mission profile a little better, perhaps, than our previous aircraft did," he said.

Missoula smokejumper Andrew Pattison said the helicopter's twin engines provide a good safety net for the crew.

"Especially in a fire situation where we might be be out in the woods up on a mountain somewhere," he said.

Pattison said smokejumpers can get injured during a landing.

"In that instance, we'd call these guys, and usually if we're jumping into a spot, then it's big enough for a helicopter to land."

If it's not a big enough landing zone, smokejumpers can create one, and will communicate information with the pilot.

Pattison said, "Accidents happen, so it's good to be prepared, it's nice to be able to come do some cross training with these guys."

MedStar staff said they conduct training sessions with smokejumpers and other firefighters annually.

MedStar replaced Missoula's previous air ambulance provider, Life Flight, back in April.

The company has a crew of about 20 pilots, nurses and paramedics.