Today was helicopter training, with lots to learn for those of us who had never been in touching distance of one before. Lessons learned included the correct way to set off a flare, where to approach the helicopter from, how to keep all your kit from blowing away in the down draft, how to attach yourself safely to the winch to be wound in and lowered, and most importantly how not to panic! Actually it wasn’t that scary once you were in the air, it was more the anticipation and trying to keep your wits about you and communicate with everyone above the noise of the engines. The HM Coastguard crew were excellent at explaining everything and keeping us all safe and in order. We also practiced using an extra line to hold a stretcher steady as it was winched in to the helicopter, which was harder than it looked. Leather gloves were definitely an advantage. The whole team was then transported in relays to a nearby hill for a mock search and rescue, carrying out a line search over rocky terrain then assessing and treating a casualty with multiple injuries. We were lucky to do all this in dry, clear and mainly sunny conditions, obviously it would be a lot more difficult in the wet, dark or mist. A bit of reality was injected at the end though, as we had to carry the stretcher and all the medical kit back down ourselves! A great training day, most enjoyable and excellent preparation for when we are needed for real emergencies. Thanks to all involved for organising the day and to the helicopter crew for their patience.