Video: Cambridgeshire - Behind the scenes of what it takes to become a police air observer.

IMAGINE being strapped in a helicopter carcass in a darkened room and dunked upside down in water. Well, its one test you face to become a police air observer. And it was passed with flying colours by Cambridgeshire Police s

IMAGINE being strapped in a helicopter carcass in a darkened room and dunked upside down in water. Well, its one test you face to become a police air observer.

And it was passed with flying colours by Cambridgeshire Police's two most recent candidates - PCs Shaun Johnson and Jonathan Morris.

They were sent to the Petans training centre near Norwich Airport for the mandatory 'HUET' - helicopter underwater escape training - and fire training to become fully-qualified air observers.

The first session taught officers how to escape from a helicopter should it ditch in water. This is essential because, with a high centre of gravity, the aircraft would flip upside down and sink.


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Officers were taught how to free themselves from the carcass upside down underwater and in darkness. They were then taught survival techniques to help stay alive in cold water.

The second half of the day taught officers how to fight a helicopter fire - how to use different fire extinguishers and where to target them on the aircraft.

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Pc Johnson had done the training before and said: "It's vital that we know these techniques. We'd like to think we'll never have to use them though.

"The underwater training isn't pleasant, but it has to be done."

It was all new for Pc Morris though, who said: "There have been a lot of exams and assessment situations over the past few weeks of training and every test had to be passed.

"This was no different. We both had to be able to pull ourselves free from the submerged aircraft - failure was not an option if we are to be part of the crew."

If both officers are still working in the air operations unit in three years' time, they have to take the training all over again.

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