Helicopter Assisted Water Rescue

DLRG, DRK-Water Rescue and Federal Police train in case of emergency

I was lucky enough to be asked to shoot to the annual training operation of the Schleswig-Holstein Air Rescue Specialists. These are around 20 skilled and trained lifeguards and pilots of the DLRG, DRK-Wasserwacht and the Federal Police. They have been jointly operating the so-called “helicopter assisted water rescue” since 2006.

Particularly in floods, but also in other situations, endangered people can not always be reached and rescued by land or water.  In this case, air-born lifeguards are dropped off either directly in the water, or, if necessary on a rooftop. They then perform necessary rescue and care measures on the patient, and evacuate them by air.

I did not only get to photograph this operation in action, but also got to play victim. I threw myself into the water, floated around helplessly in the current, was whipped in the face by the downwash of the helicopter, grabbed and strapped by my air rescue specialist and then pulled back up into the helicopter with a human straightjacket on me.

It was quite an experience! Not only being rescued, but also watching these highly trained and highly skilled volunteers work together like a well-oiled machine in order to save and help in emergency situations. And always with a smile on their faces.

DLRG Lifeguards preparing for the training mission
DLRG Lifeguard standing infront of the rescue boat
DLRG Rescue Boat going out to drop the victim into the water
Rescue Helicopter lowering a lifeguard into the water
DLRG Lifeguard watching the rescue mission
DLRG Lifeguards walk away after the rescue

Lifeguard watching the boat drop his victim into the water
Lifeguard in the helicopter about to drop down for the rescue
Empty seats in the helicopter
Federal Police pilot in the helicopter reading the training plan
Lifeguard with the victim being drawn up into the helicopter
Happy victim in the helicopter after being rescued
DLRG briefing the lifeguard rescue team infront of the helicopter
Federal Police Pilots stand infront of the rescue helicopter