ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – First responders conducted a dramatic rescue mission Wednesday morning at the Sandia Tram. Luckily, it was just a training exercise. KRQE News 13 has confirmed that the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office is participating in rescue training near the base of the tram.
You can see deputies and what looks like “passengers” being brought out from the cart. This is a joint training effort between the University of New Mexico, BCSO, and the Sandia Peak Tramway. “This is something we contemplated possibly happening for at least a couple of years,” BCSO Undersheriff Larry Koren said.
It’s a brand new training. “As far as we know, it is the first of its kind in the United States of having a helicopter tram evacuation,” Jason Williams at UNM said.
In a real situation, they would be transported to an awaiting medical response unit. Koren was the chief pilot on the helicopter. “We need to be trained on it and ready in the event something happens,” Koren said.
Sandia Peak Tramway Vice President of Operations Ben Abruzzo said while there has never been a case at the tram that called for a helicopter rescue, it is important to have a plan. “Helicopter uses in tramways for both extraction [sic] and getting people into them is pretty prevalent in Europe,” Abruzzo said.
Abruzzo said this kind of extraction is useful in a number of circumstances. “In some cases, you may want to insert a [sic] maintenance personnel or if you had a hold because of weather, but it was pretty short, but someone had a medical event, we could insert a paramedic,” Abruzzo said.
A real-like response would take 30 to 45 minutes. “We wouldn’t be doing this during the night,” Koren said. “This is a day only thing. There are weather limitations as well.”
Abruzzo said the training will continue every four to six weeks over the next year. They will get different crews from each department trained and practice moving higher up the line over time.
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