Rural Fire Service gives Army a lift

Soldiers teamed up with NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) to practise underslung cargo lifts with one of their helicopters at RAAF Base Richmond as part of a new joint training agreement.

CAPTIONArmy soldiers prepare cargo for an airlift by the Rural Fire Service helicopter. Story by Corporal Luke Bellman. Photos by Warrant Officer Robert Spooner.

As part of assessments on the air portability team leader course in February, soldiers built and hooked up loads representing humanitarian and disaster relief stores, weighing between 600kg and 1000kg to an RFS Bell 412.

Executive officer Air Mobility Training and Development Unit (AMTDU) Major Jason Sibley devised the concept last year when he was chief instructor for the unit’s Army training team.

“We challenged ourselves to find alternate resources to build resilience in the training system and found a mutually beneficial local partner in the RFS,” Major Sibley said.

“Both organisations are able to conduct training in support of each other’s own operational preparedness and training objectives.”

Major Sibley coordinated development and communication between the unit and RFS, with support from Air Mobility Group.

A reciprocal deed was established to ensure both parties could rely on each other as dependable training resources when required.

One of the students, Sergeant Matthew Pal, said it was good to work with another government agency that wasn’t military.

“Learning how they do things and how we do things might be beneficial in the future, especially with bushfires and the previous taskings we’ve done,” he said.

“We went through some emergency drills, which are a little bit different from what we’re used to in Army, like hand signals.”

AMTDU is an Air Force unit with embedded Army members responsible for the delivery of the ECN099 Air Dispatcher training continuum.

The 13-day air portability team leader course is open to corporals and above from any Army corps.

Qualified personnel can coordinate their unit’s air logistics in the field, including working with Air Force loadmasters, ground support and Army air dispatchers, providing operational flexibility.

CAPTIONAs part of the Air Mobility Training and Development Unit, Australian Army soldiers conduct load-lift training with a New South Wales Rural Fire Service helicopter at Royal Australian Air Force Base Richmond.


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