Most fire departments don’t have this helicopter training that saved a man’s life. Now, Boise does.

The Boise Fire Department is now prepared to tackle anything – even from above the ground.

In February 2017, the fire department’s water rescue and tech team joined with the Idaho Army National Guard for a water rescue of a stranded 68-year-old man in Weiser who was stranded due to flooding; the teams worked together to ensure a successful rescue, with the National Guard hovering a helicopter close to the water so rescuers could exit.

After the rescue, the entities realized it would be beneficial for the Boise Fire Department to undergo hoist system training.

The hoist system is used for otherwise inaccessible areas and, “is a cable that extends from the helicopter down to the ground about 200 feet allowing them to access and extract a patient,” Boise Fire Department spokesperson Char Jackson said. The majority of fire departments across the country do not have hoist training, Jackson said.

That incident in Weiser, mixed with previous discussions on the necessity of hoist training, led the two agencies to meet again from April 2-6 at Gowen Field.

Firefighters spent time in the classroom before taking their new-found knowledge to the skies. The firefighters learned the ins and outs of hoist training on two types of Idaho Army National Guard helicopters, the Lakota and a Black Hawk, Jackson said.

“This is a good collaborative relationship,” said Paul Roberts, the Boise Fire Department Division Chief Fire Special Operations. “The Idaho National Guard combined with Boise Fire provides Idahoans with a highly trained and capable rescue team where response and or access is complex like the one we saw during the flooding in Weiser in 2017.”

Michael Katz: 208-377-6444, @MichaelLKatz