OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As wildfires ravaged parts of the state over the past week, Oklahoma City police and fire crews are trying to stay prepared with helicopter training. Air One got some work done Wednesday, picking up and dumping water out of what’s called a Bambi Bucket.
The crews of each agency work hand in hand as they practice dumping water on wildfires.
“The more training we get, the better we get, the more sharper our skills,” said Sgt. Brent Shetley. A helicopter pilot for the Oklahoma City Police Department since 1999.
“You know that you can, that you practice enough to be proficient enough to be able to hit the spots you need to hit,” said Maj. Ryan Hill. A crew chief with the Oklahoma City Fire Department.
With the Bambi Bucket in tow, Air One goes from fighting crime to fighting fires. Shetley is one of eight pilots on the force. He goes over any body of water as they would do in a real scenario and fills it up.
“It’s not an easy job,” Shetley said. “It takes a lot of effort, a lot of coordination.”
Hill sits on the side and guides the pilot, letting him know when the bucket is full. Then, they go to work with Hill guiding the way.
“I’m basically flying it with my voice, he’s flying it with his hands, and we’re going to go into wherever it is I choose,” Hill said.
The bucket goes where ground crews can’t. Shetley used it in his first real fire situation last Friday.
“It was taxing,” Shetley said.
Training currently takes place once per month. However, crews said they want to do it more often, especially with the fires we’ve seen lately.
“Doesn’t really sink in until you’re up there,” Hill said. “You’re seeing where the fires go and you see all these structures, people’s houses, people’s lives.”
Crew chief Hill tells KFOR they usually have multiple pilots and crew chiefs out for training. They take turns after about 30 minutes to an hour of work each throughout the day.