Firefighting helicopters, The US Army psychological training for pilots

Firefighting helicopters, The US Army psychological training for pilots

The Resilience Program has been extended to captains of the California Army National Guard. It is a psychological training divided into three levels of in-depth analysis

The Army Resilience Program aims at helping helicopter pilots to overcome work-related stress during the wild fire season. The Army Resilience Program is a psychological training project developed by the US Army that has been recently extended to captains of the California Army National Guard helicopters, committed to firefighting operations in the Golden State.

The Californian wildfire season is one of the most complex and dangerous ones in the whole world. According to Calfire, in 2013, almost 4.000 fires burned up in the West Coast, including the frightening Rim Fire near Yosemite Park, the third Californian most devastating fire in history, which destroyed almost 250.000 acres of forest.

Numbers still need to be confirmed for 2014, which is expected to follow the wake of the previous season. This is why the Army Resilience Program aims at teaching pilots to cope with stress and to overcome any possible shocking experience. In other words, it’s a way for improving safety by ensuring physical and psychological well-being of firefighting operators.

The project is divided into three stages. The first one is an online course addressed to all pilots. The second one, called Resilier Trainer Assistant Course, consists in a three-day workshop on the fundamentals of resilience, a psychological concept that encompasses the ability to react positively to traumas. Finally, the last stage is the Master Resilience Trainers Course, which aims at teaching operators how to coordinate the whole crew from the emotional point of view.

‘When you work in such complex conditions, it’s pretty easy to become frustrated and stressed – said Captain Cynthia Jones, pilot and responsible for the US Army’s human resources-. If you want to work with firefighting services, apart from following the advice given by the program, you should also sleep well and follow an appropriate diet. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll never be fully efficient’.

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