Hanging by an abseil rope outside the Scenic World cableway, 100 metres above the ground in Katoomba, may not be everyone's preferred adventure - but for several NSW Ambulance critical care helicopter paramedic trainees it's how they learn to prepare for a real life disaster.
In a scenario that mimics being lowered by the rescue hoist from a helicopter's cabin, the cableway stopped in mid air on Wednesday October 30 while four trainees climbed out the door and abseiled into the Jamison valley below.
Each trainee carried a 25 kilograms pack loaded with medical and survival equipment, simulating what they would need to carry when being dropped into a remote canyon to rescue someone who is injured.
NSW Ambulance critical care paramedic educator of helicopter operations, Martin Pearce, said using the cableway for training allowed his students to practice the abseiling skills and techniques needed to safely perform life-saving rescues in a real life response.
"This exercise begins the contextualisation phase of their training, it's like descending from a rescue helicopter where you have nothing to put your feet on and no rock face to gauge your speed when going down the rope."
Mr Pearce said that previously the height of abseils undertaken by the trainees on the course had only been 25 metres.
"This drop is closer to 100 metres, which is slightly longer than the rescue hoist on our helicopters, and they've had to utilise all of the skills they've learned to date," he said.
"The cableway gives them a real feel for what abseiling mid-air is like."
Three weeks into a six week course, the paramedics who qualify at its completion will join the fifty CCPs that crew NSW Ambulance Rescue Helicopters that are based at six locations around the state. Most have 10 years experience as a paramedic before being selected to commence training for this specialised position. There are 100 critical care paramedics in NSW.
A Scenic World spokeswoman, Amanda Byrne, said the cableway was regularly used for NSW Ambulance and Police Rescue training.
"It provides a unique platform for their training in the Blue Mountains, a region where they often find themselves undertaking real life rescues," Ms Byrne said.