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County Helicopter Crews, Rescue Swimmers Train at Gaviota State Park

Training is required 4 times each year in order for fire personnel to retain their certifications

Santa Barbara County fire/paramedics participate in water rescue training with a County Air Support Helicopter at Gaviota State Beach Wednesday. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara County fire/paramedics participate in water rescue training with a County Air Support Helicopter at Gaviota State Beach Wednesday.  (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

Santa Barbara County firefighters and Air Support Unit crews practiced water rescues Wednesday during their quarterly training at Gaviota State Beach .

The Air Support Unit, jointly operated by the fire and Sheriff’s Department, has five helicopters at the Santa Ynez Airport and Fire Department rescue swimmers are also stationed there.

Wednesday’s training included helicopter pilots, flight crew chiefs and rescue swimmers practicing.

The helicopters hovered 15 feet over the ocean, and had rescue swimmers jump in, with other swimmers jumping in after them to practice the rescue, fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.

Other drills had the helicopter lower and raise rescue swimmers and pretend victims with a hoist.

The flight crews and rescue swimmers have to complete the training every three months to keep certifications current, Zaniboni said.

Aside from the water rescue personnel stationed at Santa Ynez, water rescue teams are at Station 11 in Goleta and Station 17 at UC Santa Barbara, Zaniboni said. 

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Rescue swimmers and other Santa Barbara County Fire Department personnel practice ocean water rescue techniques at Gaviota State Beach Wednesday. Click to view larger
Rescue swimmers and other Santa Barbara County Fire Department personnel practice ocean water rescue techniques at Gaviota State Beach Wednesday.  (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department)
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