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.