Columbia Helicopters Summer 2005 Newsletter

Columbia Helicopters Summer 2005 Newsletter
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  IntercompanyNews Summer 2005Volume 27, No. 2   Columbia Takes Part In ForestFuels Reduction Program Continued on Page 4  It’s not often that Columbia Helicopters is paid toremove timber with very low commercial value, but ithappened recently in Southern California.Working with the U.S. Forest Service, Columbiatook part in a Forest Fuels Reduction Program in theSan Bernardino National Forest, just east of LosAngeles. The Forest Service developed the programin order to reduce the heavy fuel loads in the WildlandUrban Interface (WUI) areas of Forest Falls, AngelusOakes and Big Bear Lake.This program is the result of a special appropria-tion obtained by U.S. Representative Jerry Lewis (R, 2005 U.S. Fire SeasonSlow and Smoldering Despite heavy growth of underbrush from Springrains and dire predictions, the Summer fire seasondid not blow up as expected.When fires did start, the U.S. Forest Serviceresponded immediately with effective use of aerialand ground units. Interestingly, this is somethingmany Type 1 helicopter operators, including CHI,have been advocating for years.Columbia took part in its share of initial attacksthis summer. While the season was quieter, therewas a point in August where seven of the company’shelicopters were battling wildfires.Columbia once again had a Boeing 234 Chinookworking for the U.S. Forest Service under an Exclu-sive Use contract. Despite being based out of theOakridge, Oregon airport, N245CH spent little timethere, working on eight fires in four states. It also hadstandby time in Oregon and Nevada, prepared tohandle initial attack duties had fires started duringextreme weather conditions.Columbia’s Vertols N185CH and N191CH alsospent time on fires this season, with ’85 working oneight fires and ’91 fighting five fires. N194CH,N6672D, C-FHFW (ex-N188D) and N192CH also hadtime on the fire lines this season.To date, the company has fought on 25 fires thisseason, spread across seven Western states.Oregon led the pack, with aircraft fighting on six fireshere, followed by Nevada (5), Utah (3), California andMontana (2), and Alaska and Washington with oneeach.Only one fire was large enough to require three ofColumbia’s aircraft; the Deer fire near Willows, Calif.occupied the three Vertols in August. Three otherfires had two Columbia helicopters assigned.The Blossom Complex fire in Southern Oregontakes this season’s record for the longest number ofdays to use a Columbia aircraft, when it engagedN245CH for 20 days in August.  2 Columbia ReservistsReturn from Middle East Rod Gilbert and Ben Yarborough saw some badthings during their tours of duty in Iraq, but the goodthings they saw help to temper the memories.Both Rod (right)   and Ben (below)   are in the U.S.Army Reserves, and both deployed to the Iraq when theirunits were called up to active duty. Both have returnedto the U.S. now, with Rod back at work in the Transmis-sion Shop while Ben recovers from injuries unrelated tohis military service.While on active duty, Rod was a Sergeant in AlphaCompany of the 2/162 Infantry, which was part of the39 th  Brigade Combat Team of the 1 st  Cavalry Division.Rod served as a Fire Team Leader, commanding aHumvee with 2 or 3 guys. His team made 3 or 4 combatpatrols a day, and also conducted convoy escorts,served on security details and quick reaction forces, androute clearances.“I didn’t much care for route clearance duty,’ recalled Rod. “That meant checking areas for roadsidebombs. I saw vehicles hit in front of me and behind me.”Rod’s most vivid memory came on just his second day in Iraq. “We were on patrol, and were hit by anambush. We had to fight our way out. One of the guys lost his leg to an RPG (rocket propelled grenade).”While Rod spent most of his time in Baghdad, his last three weeks were spent in what the Marines calledthe “Triangle of Death”.“There were daily roadside bombings there,” Rod said.Rod also experienced some of the rebuilding taking place in Iraq. “We helped out with re-building schools,as well as the infrastructure of the country,” said Rod. “Some of the Iraqis were very friendly.”Ben’s experience was similar to Rod’s, though Ben was assigned to Kuwait. Ben served as a Specialist inCharlie Battery, of the 2/146 FA. His unit’s mission was toprovide security to three bases in Kuwait.“My responsibility in the unit was Fire Team Leader at thepoint of entry at the bases, said Ben. “Then I was a gunnerin a Humvee for a Quick Reaction Force.” Quick ReactionForce teams are required to respond to calls within fiveminutes, meaning soldiers are sometimes required to sleepin uniform and with their equipment.Ben’s most vivid memory was of the heat. “I recall drivingaround during the day, in the middle of the summer, in thegunner’s turret with the temperature around 130 degrees. Iwas wearing 70 pounds of gear, and I could feel the sweatrunning down my back. Usually we were just waiting for acall to come in about a suspicious looking object or personaround the camp, or a suspicious looking object on theroad.”Ben also feels that the work was worth the effort. “Beforewe got there, residents were living under much worseconditions,” said Ben. “They were living in constant fear ofthe police and torture.”Columbia Helicopters is proud to welcome back both Rodand Ben  3 ’85 MaintenanceCrew Heads tothe Rescue Forest Falls, California resi-dents have the Forest Service andColumbia Helicopters to thank forreducing the fire danger aroundtheir homes. (See story Page 4)  At least one Forest Falls familycan also thank two Columbiaemployees for their rapid responseto a serious accident that occurredvery close the N185CH servicelanding.Assistant Crew Chief Matt Cole (left) and Mechanic Trevor Pollock (right)   were conducting eveningmaintenance on the evening ofMonday, June 20 when they heardtires squealing on a nearby pavedroad, followed by the sound of acar wreck. Both employees jumped into a truck and respondedto the scene to see if they could help“When we came on the site, we saw two women in the middle of the road, crying and holding each other,”said Matt. “The car was on the opposite side of the road(from the direction it was going) up from the shoulderon it’s top. There were a few other vehicles already stopped.“We asked one of the women what happened, and if anybody was still in the car. Between tears and sobs,she said her five-month pregnant sister was trapped in the car.”Two other motorists had also stopped to look, but were not assisting. Matt and Trevor found the sister lying withher head and arm out of the vehicle. “We both thought she was dead,” recalled Matt.“Trevor knelt down to check for vitals, and noticed a candy sucker in her mouth, and that she was choking,”said Matt. “He removed the sucker to help clear her airway, and then she started to panic. He told her to bestill, and for me to call for help.”“I ran back to the service landing and used our medivac plan and called the hospital. I told them the conditionof the driver, and requested ambulances and medics for the other two people. I grabbed our litter and first aidkit and headed back to the site.”By the time Matt returned, two off-duty medics were on site, caring for the women. At this point, oneambulance and a fire truck from Forest Falls had responded and Matt and Trevor returned to the servicelanding to complete the post-flight maintenance.“We’ve heard the passenger is still in the hospital in stable condition,” said Matt. “She kept the baby. Herinjuries included a broken neck, broken back, punctured lung from a broken rib, and head injuries.”“At times, first aid training may seem boring and pointless, but you both have shown just how valuable thiseducation truly is,” stated Mike Fahey, company president, in a letter of commendation to both Matt and Trevor.“While you helped to save someone’s loved one on this occasion, it may just as easily have been your ownloved one, or one of your fellow employees, who was saved by a person with the proper training.”“Through your actions, you have brought distinction upon yourselves and you have helped to establish apositive standard for all of our crews around the world. Your efforts are in keeping with the highest traditions ofColumbia Helicopters,” added Mike. “Your immediate response to the scene, rapid assessment and first aidassistance undoubtedly helped to save this woman’s life, as well as that of her unborn child.”  4 California), intended to reduce re-occurrences ofthe devastating wildfires that swept through theSouthern California region two years ago. The WUIsites involved in the project include several heavyresidential areas.“This is the most urbanized National Forest inthe country,” stated Gene Zimmerman, Supervisorof the San Bernardino National Forest.“This project is not just about the SanBernardino’s,” said Bob Sommer, Forest FuelsOfficer on the San Bernardino National Forest. “Thisproject is necessary everywhere fires meet theWildland Urban Interface. Our first focus is commu-nities, but we are also concerned with saving theecosystems.”“What we need is a long-term, sustained pro-gram of removing danger trees,” statedZimmerman. “We need to spend 6-7 years of reallyintensive work, creating wide passes and strategi-cally located turns and breaks. We then need tocontinue to maintain these areas.”“The work is expensive due to the infrastructurehere,” added Zimmerman. “We have 100 years ofbacklog, and now we can’t cut fast enough. Ourpopulation is now demanding more work in theirareas. Folks who live here know what needs to bedone”Zimmerman sees the fire danger in his forest ona daily basis, but also recognizes that much of thepublic lands in the U.S. is similarly in need of pre-ventative work.“This is the epicenter of the work, primarily dueto the population here. But the forest mortality is ashigh as anywhere,” stated Zimmerman. “Firesuppression has resulted in an unnaturally denseforest that is susceptible to forest mortality and fire.”Like any project, funding is always an issue, butZimmerman sees it as money well spent. “Firesuppression is expensive, so money spent onprevention is a positive investment. If we can getthe fuel treatment done, we can prevent the mas-sive economic damage we experienced in 2003.”Another equally important consideration isprevention of the environmental devastation causedby severe forest fires.“We’re incredibly lucky to have the support ofCongressman Lewis and Senator Dianne Feinstein(D, Calif.) here,” added Zimmerman. “Congress- As a resident of Forest Falls, and speaking only for myself, I must say that even though the pounding of rotor wash and incredibly life altering noise, along with having to continually push trinkets back into place on their shelves, the almost uninterrupted progress by your loggers and helicopter crews has been most impressive.I’m sure you have received, both in letter and in person, many complaints about the disruption of peoples’ lives and the chaos created when those people can’t carry on a conversation out on their deck or even hear their favorite soaps or midday t.v. shows. Rest assured that many of us, like those of us that work graveyard or those that work at home and are likewise frustrated, realize that, effective immediately, we are better protected from the threat of forest fires and that this type of work is not likely going to be needed again in our lifetime.Please know that your work and time here in our canyon was appreciated and now that your work is done and you’re gone, the peace and quiet of our canyon home is even more appreciated.Thank you for participating in an effort to make our village safer.Sincerely,Christopher Cox Forest Falls Resident  Area Resident Praises Logging Continued from Page 1 Forest Fuels Reduction Continued on Page 5 
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