The Idaho National Guard sent three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and nearly two-dozen personnel on Aug. 27 to assist in battling the California wildfires. Earlier in the week, the Idaho Army National Guard Aviation Group trained on the specialized bucket equipment unique to helicopters and designed specifically for aerial firefighting.
“California is currently requesting six Type-1 firefighting aircraft and we’re one of the only units currently available to fulfill that request,” said Col. Christopher Burt, Idaho Army National Guard state aviation officer. “We are trained, ready and eager to help our neighbors in California.”
The team from Idaho includes pilots and crew chiefs who make up the flight crews, along with essential maintenance and support personnel, as well as two flight paramedics augmenting California National Guard UH-60 MEDEVAC crews. They will work in cooperation with several other states as they battle the massive fires that have already consumed more than 1 million acres across the Golden State.
“Our UH-60s are three of nearly 80 civilian and military aircraft from around the nation supporting this crisis response,” said Capt. Eric Fitzpatrick, officer in charge of Idaho’s team. “Civilian aircraft are the primary effort but they have reached capacity so this is where the National Guard comes in: to help fellow citizens in need, whether back home in Idaho or around the country.”
While Idaho Army Aviation provides this support to the citizens of California, the Idaho National Guard as a whole continues to maintain its readiness to respond to fires, or any other emergencies here in Idaho, if called upon.