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      Chopper aids in first responder's mock exercise

      First responder students at Gogebic Community College are getting a reality check. They're learning outside the classroom where the exercises are fake, but the lessons are real. Tuesday's exercise at the school was on ground and in air.

      "Today's training is allowing both the EMT and the paramedic programs to set up the landing zones on helicopter operations," said Randy Forstrom, EMS Programs Coordinator at Gogebic Community College.

      The chopper was flown in from Wausau, Wisconsin by Aspirus MeEvac. A total of 18 students in the program took part in this mock exercise. It's the first time ever a chopper has been provided to the program. Organizers say the hands-on learning is important because just like less-than-ideal weather, they'll be dealing with less-than-ideal situations.

      "It'll give the crews an opportunity to set up that landing zone and use that advance care that we may not be able to provide as a paramedic unit," Forstrom said.

      The student EMTs will more than likely respond to critical situations in their professions where air support is needed. Knowing how to properly prepare a landing zone for helicopters is crucial. For one student, it's the difference between life and death.

      "It's a good feeling when you actually help someone," said Paramedic program student, Melvin Majurin. "The more experience you have, the easier it's going to be, and it'll be more fluent for you and it'll make them feel more comfortable."

      On hand were multiple fire departments and medics to help with the mock exercise.