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OC Fire Authority helicopter rescue training

July 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Eyewitness News went on a helicopter rescue training exercise over the Cleveland National Forest with crew members of the Orange County Fire Authority on Monday.

Whether it's a stranded hiker or a boater in distress, the OCFA is trained to come to the rescue.

The OCFA's 40 rescuers must undergo rigorous training every 90 days to be certified for air rescues.

Last year, helicopter crews were called to more than 300 incidents that included fires and rescues

"We typically rescue people mostly from backcountry, hiking, biking trails - most of our rescue calls occur in that environment," said pilot Karim Slate, who has more than 40 years of flying experience.

Officials say with two Bell Helicopters they received in 2009 and a larger hanger in Fullerton, the choppers are in greater use than ever, unlike their two other Vietnam-era Super Hueys.

Officials said the new helicopters can also perform off-shore rescues to help hard-to-reach victims.