Rescue crews train on everything. Boat crews perform drills on man-overboard, fire, flooding, loss of steering, you name it. Helicopter crews drill on everything too. In my time in helicopters I remember drilling on cabin fire and smoke, ditching and escape, total power loss and auto-rotation, I even remember watching an instructor pilot pull back an engine in a hover to “simulate” losing it. Crews train on everything they might have to do out there and they make that training as real as possible. Well, almost everything. Real hoist emergencies don’t get drilled, they mostly just get talked about.
Losing a cable or cutting away a rescuer following an engine failure isn’t something you can easily (or safely) just try out there. Cutting a hoist cable means ruining the hoist and hours of maintenance and isn’t something that can be worked into the training budget. The equipment is too expensive, the flight hours even more so, and the risk to personnel is too great. If only someone would invent a way to bring the outside, inside; a mock helicopter with the same tools SAR operators use for real in an environment that is real. Only then could hoist drills mimic reality safely.
Enter the HERT Locker – training and tools developed in partnership between Survival Systems Training, Ltd. and Total Response Solutions in Canada. Mixing the environment provided by SSTL’s state of the art Maritime Aviation Survival Training facility and the jointly developed HERT Locker – a 2 million dollar helicopter training platform with a complete communications and hoist system on board – allows crews to do the things they only talked about before.
Lifesaving Systems was there last month at inaugural demonstration of this game changing (and flight hour saving) training system. The main demo (shown below) will give you some idea of the value of HERT training that can allow otherwise experience hoist operators to do – over and over again – what they likely have never done before, but may need to one day.