The U.S. Forest Service will be training two helitack crews to conduct “Emergency Medical Short-Haul” missions in and near Missoula, from May 17th to May 22nd.

Public Affairs Specialist Jennifer Jones said nearly 20 helitack crew members will receive specialized training at the Ninemile airstrip.

"This emergency medical short haul training will insert individuals suspended from a line on a helicopter into remote and inaccessible areas where they can then provide medical care and extract any injured firefighters or any other employees that we might have and get them to an area where they can be quickly transported to medical care," Jones said.

Jones said the Forest Service is training its own people to provide this service, rather than contracting with other agencies.

"In the past, the Forest Service has used 'cooperators' such as the National Park Service and some state agencies as well as some state agencies and even the military to provide emergency medical short-haul services for the agency," she said. "We decided to get our own capability to ensure that these services will be available when we need them."

Jones said the training will begin with the 20 crews next week, followed with more crew training in the future, but that the emphasis will be on preventing the injuries that would require such short-haul services.

The Forest Service will implement the Emergency Medical Short-Haul program this year using two existing agency helitack crews, one based in Wenatchee,Washington and one based in Jackson Hole,Wyoming.