Search and Rescue by Alessandro Barteletti

Air rescuers of the 15th Stormo are a special and exclusive Italian Air Force unit: just a little over 200 have been trained in the last 50 years. The department is operative 24/7, with intervention times ranging between 30 and 120 minutes.
S.A.R. SEARCH AND RESCUE - An HH3F helicopter on the water line, an air rescuer swimming towards the victim: a kind of routine for the Search and Rescue men but for the victim it marks the line between Life and Death. Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

Air rescuers of the 15th Stormo are a special and exclusive Italian Air Force unit: just a little over 200 have been trained in the last 50 years.

The department is operative 24/7, with intervention times ranging between 30 and 120 minutes. They intervene by helicopter: once they arrive, they locate the victims, they descend, they rescue and secure them and then they bring them up. In short, they’re climbers and frogmen who keep going when other stop. This project was carried out in 2011 for Volare, the most important monthly aviation magazine in Italy. I passed three days with rescuers following their training with all the rescuing procedures in the sea and in the mountains.

About Alessandro Barteletti

Photographer and journalist, Alessandro Barteletti was born in Rome in 1981 and he currently lives in Milan. Through his photos, he has told the reality behind the scenes of news stories and social and sports events for over a decade: from the training of the Italian soldiers leaving for Iraq in 2004 to the earthquake in Abruzzo (Italy) in 2009; from the 2008 presidential elections in the USA to the training of the Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, just to mention some works. Being keen on anything one can drive fast on the roads or fly in the sky, over the last few years he has specialized in the auto and aviation industries. National Geographic Italia, Top Gear, Ruoteclassiche, Quattroruote, GQ, Wired are some of the magazines he collaborates with. He shoots exclusive projects for Trussardi, Ferrari and Aeronautica Militare. He teaches photography at Officine Fotografiche School and he has been awarded at International Prizes such as Siena International Photo Awards and Lens Culture Magnum Photography Awards. [Official Website]

S.A.R. SEARCH AND RESCUE – Mountain training is part of the daily activities.
Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

S.A.R. SEARCH AND RESCUE – Rescuing the gurney with the injured one while the helicopter is hovering in the same position.
Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

S.A.R. SEARCH AND RESCUE – The descent and ascent of the rescuer with the victims is made through a winch (a 70 meters steel cable) which can hook baskets or gurneys.
Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

S.A.R. SEARCH AND RESCUE – The operator onboard the helicopter sights the victim and coordinates activities of the helicopter crew and the rescuers in action.
Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

S.A.R. SEARCH AND RESCUE – The team finds out the victim and from the helicopter communicates using gestures to reassure him/her.
Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

S.A.R. SEARCH AND RESCUE – The air rescuer descends from the helicopter using the winch.
Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

S.A.R. SEARCH AND RESCUE – After saving the victim, the air rescuer comes back onboard using the wrench.
Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

S.A.R. SEARCH AND RESCUE – The emblem of the Unit, a Jolly recalling a symbol beloved by the first Rescue swimmer, the diver Franco Papo’, is on every suit. “The crew is more than a Team, we are a family. It’s all based on the synergy and mutual trust”, says Fabrizio Verginelli, 42, Air Rescuer.
Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

S.A.R. SEARCH AND RESCUE – On board there are always two pilots, two operators, one or two rescuers and sometimes even a nurse or a doctor.
Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

S.A.R. SEARCH AND RESCUE – There is no script. Every rescue is a story in itself. It takes a lot of daily training to analyze the situation, asses the risks and choose instinctively the procedure to undertake.
Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

S.A.R. SEARCH AND RESCUE – “Fear is useful. It makes you do things right, it puts you on alert because you are not a reckless fool who goes into the fray”, says Michele Di Tullio, 43, Air Rescue.
Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

S.A.R. SEARCH AND RESCUE – A low altitude flight over the mountains; pilot and co-pilot are onboard.
Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

S.A.R. SEARCH AND RESCUE – After every mission over the sea, the helicopter is washed with fresh water to prevent corrosion.
Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

SEARCH AND RESCUE – Night comes and the helicopter remains in the apron ready to leave for the next emergency. The department is operative 24/7, with intervention times ranging between 30 and 120 minutes.
Photo © Alessandro Barteletti

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