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These guys have almost no concept of “bad weather”. Employees of the Moscow Aviation Center descend from the sky, like savior angels, to pull out the wounded, lost, and stuck from the most inaccessible places.

Civil aviation workers celebrate their professional holiday on February 9. The day before Moscow Aviation Center (IAC) conducted a demonstration training of air rescuers, and at the same time demonstrated the new Ka-32A11BC fire-fighting helicopter at the site in the Shchapovo village. The day turned out to be not very suitable for mastering the elements of aerobatics: the air temperature dropped to minus 15, the icy wind was catching up with prickly snow dust. Who can withstand such bad weather is already a hero. Read about how helicopter rescuers act in emergency situations in the report.

Against the wind

These were ordinary teachings. The guys from SPASO (Search and Rescue Service of the IAC) regularly test themselves for strength. So, in 2020, they participated in 35 aerial training sessions.

“When a call comes in, we must quickly get from the base to the helipad. We drive a car, unload from it on board only the rescue equipment that is needed in this case, ”says Alexei Novikov, deputy head of the search and rescue service (SPASO) of the Moscow Aviation Center.

We are shown two cases. In the first, you need to take out a person lost in a blizzard. In the second, you have to save a wounded man lying in a snowdrift. A team of four, dressed in insulated overalls and helmets, unloads a “kerchief” (a triangular canvas patch) and a stretcher from the trunk of a van. All this is carried aboard the Ka-32A11BC, and the bright red helicopter takes off.

One of the training participants remains on the site: he portrays a lost one. The helicopter makes a circle, returns and hovers in the air. The rescuer opens the cabin door and descends to the ground on a winch. Without unfastening from the cable, he takes out the “kerchief”, the victim stretches it between his legs and fixes the belts on the belt. The winch hook is caught on the loop on the belt, the found one is held by his hands on the cable, and they, together with the lifeguard, climb aboard.

The helicopter again makes a circle, symbolically taking away the rescued person, then comes back, hovers over the site, and the guys work out the second case. In a snowdrift near the airfield, a “wounded” mannequin is already waiting. The difficulty of the task is that this time the rescuer will not be able to help the victim without unfastening the rope: he is deep in a snowdrift and cannot move independently. The rotorcraft raises a strong wind, snow flies in the face and eyes. Two IAC employees go down on the winch, detach from it and, barely keeping their feet, pull the stretcher through the snow towards the dummy. Then they push them under the lying person, tie them with belts and drag them to the winch. They hook the hook on the straps, fasten themselves to the rope and, supporting the stretcher, rise. “Wounded” on board. Operation completed.

“The stretcher and“ kerchief ”are the most frequently used equipment of the IAC. Now there is snowfall in Moscow and the surrounding area, anything can happen. People get lost in hard-to-reach places, ”says Alexey Novikov.

The staff of the Moscow Aviation Center includes 26 SPASO rescuers, a flight squad – crews of fire and medical helicopters, ground services. Typically, two pilots, a doctor and a paramedic, are sent on a medical evacuation call. In 2020, helicopter pilots flew to evacuate victims 294 times, to extinguish a fire – once, conducted 580 aerial reconnaissance – to check if there was a threat of fire or floods. The IAC emergency rescue unit was involved in emergencies almost 400 times, while assisting and rescuing 204 people. However, Alexei remembered the incident in the forest more.

“In the fall of 2020, they were looking for a man lost in the forest. It was difficult: the leaves from the trees had not yet fallen, they interfered with the view. Only clearings and fields were thoroughly examined. In parallel with us, ground services worked. As a result, the lost person was found alive and well, ”the rescuer smiles.

Employees of the Moscow Aviation Center saved about two thousand people in the Troitsky and Novomoskovsky administrative areas in five years

Almost a spaceship

The IAC has 26 helipads at its disposal. Four of them are located on the territory of city clinical hospitals, one – at the 35th kilometer of the Moscow Ring Road, 21 – in the Troitsk and Novomoskovsk administrative districts. The organization’s air fleet has 11 helicopters of various models. Today we saw the Ka-32A11BC – a modern modification of the Ka-32A helicopter. MAC has two such machines. They were received in 2019 and 2020.

“The Ka-32A helicopter is perhaps the world’s best fire extinguishing technique from the air. The car has a large power reserve, it can withstand any weather conditions. In addition, the external suspension of the helicopter is capable of lifting a load weighing five tons – you can move pumping stations to supply water or power generators, ”says Oleg Katalshev, deputy director for flight operations at the IAC, while we are warming up with hot tea and lard – the rescuers’ breakfast.

Initially, this model was created for rescue operations at sea. During the tests, it turned out that the helicopter is also suitable for work in urban environments. The aircraft commander, Andrei Mikhalevich, recalls how he personally piloted the car while extinguishing a fire in the capital.

“A large warehouse caught fire near the Moscow State University building. Because of the heavy smoke, nothing was visible. Our brigade had to stop the spread of fire. We took water from the Moskva River and poured it into the place of the fire. Five tons of water were poured out at a time, ”says Andrey.

After training we are allowed to board. Inside, the cabin resembles an ambulance device: benches on the sides and a space in the center for a stretcher with a wounded person. And in the cockpit there is a control panel like in a spaceship.

“Inside, the rescue helicopters are about the same. Management is different. In the new Ka-32A11BC model, the developers have abandoned analog devices – they have completely switched to electronics. There is a media radar, GPS, and electronic communications for each pilot. Therefore, the technique is unique, ”explains Andrei Mikhalevich.

Large fire in northwest Moscow extinguished New firefighter helicopter joins the squad of the Moscow Aviation Center

Not only helicopters

In the near future, the new Ka-32A11BC is planned to be put on alert in the capital. And the model, which arrived in 2019, will be equipped with a system of horizontal, vertical and lateral fire extinguishing, thanks to which it will be possible to extinguish fires of varying degrees of difficulty at any height. Also, employees of the department plan to use the overhauled Mi-26T fire-fighting helicopter and the VK117S-2 ambulance helicopter. According to Andrey Mikhalevich, now the service life of such equipment is 40 years.

Rescuers point out that air operations are not the only thing they have to do. They go to traffic accidents, to search for the missing together with ground services, open locked doors.

“When we don’t fly by helicopter, we save on the ground. We have health, physical fitness, psychological stability, and confidence that we can make the right decision. And such people are needed not only in the air, ”sums up Alexey Novikov.

Moscow rescuers received two training modules for practicing fire actions

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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