Tag Archives: helicopters

California | San Diego City and County team up to expand night-flying helicopter use

Fathers Day Fire_001

From a hangar at Montgomery Field where the City of San Diego’s night-flying helicopters are stationed, San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts and Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer announced an agreement Tuesday that improves emergency and fire preparedness and cooperation throughout the county.

The agreement calls for the City of San Diego’s two firefighting and rescue helicopters with night-flying capability to be available for nighttime water drops and rescues in the county’s 17 other cities and unincorporated areas. These helicopters are the only air resources in the region capable of providing night fire-fighting operations.

“The new City-County partnership to extend night flights to all corners of our region is great news for residents and builds on our efforts to bolster fire protection,” Chairwoman Jacob said of the agreement. “Wildfire is a year-round threat in San Diego County, from our cities to our backcountry, so I want to thank Mayor Faulconer for his leadership on this critical issue.”

Under the agreement, the City will respond to requests from other local agencies to provide nighttime helicopter flights in support of wildfire and emergency medical rescue operations to the extent its helicopters are operationally available. The County will then reimburse the City for its flight and staffing costs.

“Expanding access to night-flying helicopters is our newest tool to protect residents and keep our region on the cutting edge of public safety,” said Supervisor Ron Roberts. “This agreement worked out with Mayor Faulconer is the latest example of how the County and the City of San Diego are working tirelessly and cooperatively to improve emergency response capabilities before disaster strikes.”

The night-flying agreement has been in effect since Dec. 1 and expires June 30, 2016, with five one-year optional extensions to be mutually agreed upon by both the City and County. The use of the City’s Bell 212 and Bell 412EP helicopters will be reimbursed at a rate of $3,721 and $5,027, respectively, per flight hour.

“When a wildfire comes we have to be focused on results and saving lives, not jurisdictional boundaries drawn on a map,” Mayor Faulconer said. “That’s why the City and County are embarking on a new level of cooperation to make sure our region is as prepared as possible for whatever comes our way. We’re all in this together. I want to thank the County supervisors for their great teamwork.”

Since the devastating 2003 and 2007 wildfires, great strides have been made by the region’s firefighting agencies to work more collaboratively and make significant operational changes aimed at bolstering fire protection.

For example, the County has spent more than $317 million since 2003 on improvements, including funds to develop a more nimble and professionally trained firefighting force and technology improvements like the Next Generation Incident Command System and a regional emergency app.

During the same period, the City has purchased new fire apparatus and built a reserve fleet of 32 apparatus for surge capacity. In addition, the City now has more than 1,500 Community Emergency Response Team volunteers trained to assist as disaster service workers in the event of a large wildfire.

“Just as they did during the May wildfires, our night-flying helicopters and crews have time and again proved their value as a critical regional resource to combat wildfires and perform life-saving rescue and medical missions,” said San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Javier Mainar. “With this cooperative agreement, we will be in a position to make a difference the next time we’re needed anywhere in our county.”

WA | WNG sends additional resources to help battle wildfires

The National Guard today sent another two helicopters to Eastern Washington to assist fire crews battling growing wildfires.

Meanwhile, an additional 100 soldiers are on standby and are on the ground in Yakima to help fight the fires from the ground.

“These Soldiers on standby have received what we call Red Card training,” said Major General Bret Daugherty, the state’s adjutant general and Commander of the Washington National Guard.

“That means they have unique skills in fighting fires, and have the ability to immediately step in and be effective in battling the blaze. They are ready to support this mission, and provide some much needed relief for the fire crews who have worked around the clock battling fast-spreading flames, fatigue and hot temperatures.”

The Department of Natural Resources has requested ground assistance, though it hasn’t been determined when the soldiers will arrive on the fire lines. Meanwhile, DNR has indicated it will train additional soldiers who are already in Yakima for annual training to be Red Card certified.

The Washington National Guard now has a total of six helicopters assisting from the air, including two Chinooks that can carry 2,000 gallons of water, and four Black Hawks with the ability to drop 600 gallons of water. As of this morning, the helicopters had dropped a combined 84,000 gallons of water over the flames.

Additional Washington National Guard resources remain ready to deploy if needed.

Canada | Feds award contract for new Coast Guard helos to Bell Helicopter


The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs, today announced a contract of up to $172 million awarded to Bell Helicopter for the procurement and delivery of 15 light-lift helicopters within the context of the Canadian Coast Guard’s Fleet Renewal Plan. This contract will stimulate economic growth and create Canadian jobs and business opportunities in the Canadian aerospace industry.

“Renewing the Canadian Coast Guard fleet of helicopters will improve the Coast Guard’s air support capability from coast to coast and in Canada’s North. Our Government has invested more in the Coast Guard than any other Government in Canadian history, ensuring its men and women have the equipment they need to perform the important work we ask of them.”

Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Coast Guard helicopters support activities such as ice reconnaissance, maintenance and construction of aids to navigation and telecommunications equipment, personnel and cargo transfer between ship and shore, and they provide support to science and fisheries enforcement.

Details of the contract are being finalized. The first of 15 Bell model 429 helicopters is expected to be delivered in May 2015, with one helicopter expected to be delivered each month thereafter. The procurement of these modern aircraft and associated goods and services required with new helicopter acquisitions will help renew the capabilities of the Coast Guard’s existing fleet of helicopters. The purchase of 15 Bell 429s will support more than 200 direct and indirect jobs.

  • Under the Fleet Renewal Plan, the Government of Canada will also acquire medium‑lift helicopters and simulators.
  • The overwhelming majority of flying hours logged by Coast Guard helicopters (65% of the total) is devoted to ensuring the safety of marine traffic, followed by icebreaking operations (15%) and its other responsibilities to other Coast Guard programs and other government departments (20%).

Colorado | Multiple updates from Larimer County

09-14-2013 13h37

The Larimer County Sheriff’s in coordination with Larimer County Emergency Services, Colorado State Patrol and the National Guard continue to focus on life safety priorities and assessing conditions related to public safety and public resources.
A Type II team will be coming in this evening with 50 additional people to help with planning, coordination and resource allocation for all cities in Larimer County in addition to the unincorporated areas of Larimer County.
·         Residents with medical emergencies remain the priority for evacuations at this time.
·         The National Guard is providing 7 helicopters today to help with evacuations and bring in emergency personnel to areas needed.  There are 128 people being evacuated from Big Elk Meadows and 1,200 people from Pinewood Springs.
·         There are an unknown number of people in Rist Canyon, Poudre Canyon and Big Thompson Canyon also needing evacuation assistance and we are working on assisting those people as well.
·         Search and Rescue teams are being dropped into numerous areas to assess the situation and contact stranded residents.  Additionally, approximately 7,000 meals ready to eat (MRE) and other resources are being dropped by  helicopters to stranded individuals.
·         Shelters have been set up in the following areas:
                        Thompson Valley School Administration Building in Loveland – 800 S. Taft Avenue
                        Lyons Elementary School in Lyons – North of High Street on 4th
                        Pinewood Springs Fire Department in Lyons – 61 Kiowa Road
                        Mountain View Bible Fellowship in Estes Park – Highway 7 at Peak View Drive
                        Tavelli Elementary in Fort Collins – 1118 Miramont Drive
                        Timberline Church in Fort Collins – 2908 South Timberline Road
·         The Ranch in Loveland is accepting large animals from evacuees.
The National Guard is assisting with traffic control and roadblocks. In addition to the numerous county road closures, the following Main Roads remain closed in Larimer County:
·         U.S. 34 between Glade Road and Estes Park
·         SH 392 from I-25 (Larimer County Road 5) east to 17th Street in Windsor
·         SH 14 between Ted’s Place and Walden
·         US 287 southbound at Wyoming for commercial vehicles
·         U.S. 287 in Fort Collins from MP 347 to MP 348
·         U.S. 287 at Big Thompson River in Loveland from SH 402 to 5th Street
·         SH 14 between Ted’s Place and Walden
·         SH 7 between Lyons and Estes Park
**I-25 is now OPEN in both directions from Denver to Wyoming State Line**
For a complete list of County Road closures, please refer to the website:
For a complete list of road closures State wide, a web page has been set up at: www.coloradodot.info/travel/colorado-flood-highway-updates.
·         Even if you do not see water damage and structural problems, it can still be there.  It is critical for your safety that you not attempt to reenter evacuated areas or closed roadways/bridges without further information. This will be provided as it becomes available. 
·         An investigations team has been established to start tracking confirmed reports of missing people.  We are working on numerous reports of unaccounted people.  To report a missing or unaccounted person in Larimer County, please call 970-498-5500
·         We have received a report of a 60-year-old woman from the Cedar Grove area that is missing and presumed dead as the house was destroyed by flood waters.  At this time, this is the only confirmed report of a missing person.
·         The American Red Cross Safe and Well website should be used to find someone or post information about your location for your family and friends.  This website is  www.safeandwell.org.  Due to extreme volume of requests, responding agencies and the local Red Cross volunteers cannot manage this and ask that citizens use this website to contact one another.  Register today!  The Red Cross is currently working on registering all evacuees at the local shelters.
·         The Poudre Canyon has minimal damage, but is still closed to the public
·         Rist Canyon has some damage, but residents are not stranded and are able to get out.  This area is also still closed to the public.
·         Buckhorn Canyon we have been told has extensive road damage and in some areas the road was washed away completely.  The Crystal Mountain Community is above where the water went through, but residents in this area are stranded.
·         Big Thompson Canyon has extensive road damage and the communities of Drake, Glen Haven and Cedar Park are isolated with no road access at this time.
·         The public information line is 970-498-5500.  This number can also be used to report missing or unaccounted person(s) in Larimer County.  For life threatening emergencies, dial 9-1-1. Sign up to receive emergency notifications on your cell phone and email at leta911.org.
·         Local Residents can call United Way 211 for to volunteer, give donations, get shelter information and community information.  Non-local residents can call 1-866-485-0211 for the same information.
·         Updates can be found on Facebook sites:
·         Twitter updates at:
·         Website updates at:
·         Please check on your neighbors as we are unable to do welfare checks with limited staff and resources focused on evacuations and getting food and water to stranded residents.
·         Stay out of flood water – it can be contaminated.
·         DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH WATER OR PASS ROAD BLOCKS – You are putting your life and those of emergency responders at risk if you do.
·         If you feel unsafe at your home, trust your instincts and go to a shelter.  You do not need to wait for a notification to evacuate if you feel threatened.
·         Flooding is causing blocked roadways in low-lying areas.  Hazardous road conditions exist throughout Larimer County, please limit travel and watch for road blocks at low-lying areas due to high water. Do not venture out unless absolutely necessary.
·         All residents in low-lying areas are asked to be on alert for rising water.  Be prepared to evacuate if needed.

·         Residents in are asked to limit driving, especially in mountain communities as gasoline may become scarce due to washed out roads.

New South Wales | NSW SES on high alert for major flooding

The NSW SES is ramping up its preparations to combat heavy rain and flash flooding in northern NSW with several special flood rescue and storm teams deployed to the Mid North Coast and North Coast areas of New South Wales.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a Flood Watch for potential major flooding and local flash flooding in an area stretching from the Queensland border down to the Lower Hunter. A Severe Weather Warning  remains in place for heavy rain for the Northern Rivers, Mid North Coast, Northern Tablelands and Northwest Slopes and Plains forecast districts. Very heavy rain is forecast for towns like Byron Bay, Grafton, Lismore, Yamba, Armidale, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Taree over the next 48 hours. Further heavy falls are expected for northern NSW throughout Monday.

NSW SES volunteers and specialist flood rescue teams are on standby in the event of the severe weather and four helicopters have been deployed to help out with flood rescue operations. Other emergency services including NSW Police Force and Ambulance Service NSW are assisting the NSW SES with its flood rescue preparations.

NSW SES Commissioner Murray Kear is urging people to stay safe this long weekend.

“While the NSW SES is ready to help the community in times of storms and floods, people can do their part to limit damage and risk to life by staying well away from floodwater. If you come across a flooded road on your travels don’t drive through it – it’s not worth the risk to your life and the lives of our volunteers who have to come out and save you.”

“With many people travelling around the northern parts of the state over the Australia Day long weekend, holiday-makers should consider the severe weather conditions in their travel plans as many major roads and highways could be cut off by floodwater,” Commissioner Kear said.

Motorists can keep up to date with the latest traffic information at livetraffic.com .

For emergency help in a flood or storm call the NSW SES on 132 500. Dial 000 in life-threatening situations.

Don’t risk the rescue – be FloodSafe .

Maryland | Gov O’Malley unveils new Maryland State Police medevac helicopter

Governor Martin O’Malley today joined Colonel Marcus Brown, officials from AgustaWestland, representatives from the state’s emergency medical services community, and other officials to unveil the first new Maryland State Police medevac helicopter, an important step forward in replacing Maryland’s aging medevac helicopter fleet.   

“The most sacred responsibility that any government holds is to protect the lives of its citizens. It’s a statewide effort that involves partnership at every level, which is why we’re fortunate in Maryland to have such talented and dedicated first responders,” said Governor O’Malley. “That’s why we chose to invest $121.7 million for 10 new state-of-the-art Medevac helicopters that will replace our current fleet. Together, with the men and women of Maryland’s law enforcement, we’ve driven down violent crime, homicides and property crimes to 30-year lows. And through our actions together, we can create a better, safer tomorrow.”

Maryland has a $121.7 million contract with AgustaWestland for 10 helicopters. Other helicopters are in production and will arrive soon. Officials with the Maryland Department of Transportation coordinated the procurement process. The new helicopters contain the latest in avionics and safety equipment, including terrain awareness warning systems, night vision compatibility, cockpit voice and video recorders, radar altimeters, and advanced instrument flight rating capabilities, all recommended by the Federal Aviation Administration. They provide more space in the patient and cargo areas, enabling flight paramedics to have better access to patients and to carry rescue equipment on board at all times.

“This new helicopter and the others that will follow, represent an incredible improvement to public safety capabilities in Maryland,” Colonel Marcus Brown said. “They will provide a safer aircraft for our crews, with more room and equipment for our flight paramedics to care for the injured.  I thank Governor O’Malley who, with the support of the General Assembly, fulfilled his promise to the State Police, our public safety partners, and to the people of Maryland.  These new aircraft will be put to good use and will, along with our EMS partners, continue the amazing lifesaving response and care Maryland is known for.”

The new aircraft on the way will replace Maryland’s aging fleet of 11 helicopters, 10 of which are now more than 20 years old.  Increasing age and flight hours result in increasing mandated inspections and maintenance, meaning the aircraft are increasingly unavailable for use.

In addition, the new aircraft also have satellite tracking and downlink video capabilities, as well as interoperable communication. The twin engines on the helicopters are more powerful than those on the exiting aircraft, which remains critical during a hoist rescue operation.  The new aircraft will enable the crew to fly the aircraft away if an engine fails during a hoist operation. Currently, the aircraft will stay aloft if an engine fails, but the hoist rescue must be terminated before the aircraft can leave the scene.  According to AgustaWestland, the new helicopter is the fastest in its class, has the largest cabin space of any helicopter in the same weight class, and is the only helicopter in its class that meets or exceeds all the latest civil certification safety requirements.

The new helicopters arriving in Maryland will not be placed into immediate service. State Police helicopter pilots and flight paramedics will be undergoing extensive training on the new aircraft.  In addition to pilots learning the new aircraft requirements, the flight paramedics must also become familiar with the new medical equipment and configurations in the aircraft. State Police Aviation Command officials anticipate the new aircraft to be deployed in actual missions sometime in early 2013.

Maryland’s medevac program began in the State Police in March 1970, in cooperation with Dr. R Adams Cowley and the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Since then, more than 138,000 patients have been flown to lifesaving care at one of Maryland’s network of trauma and specialty-care hospitals.

The Maryland State Police is a proud partner in Maryland’s world renowned emergency medical services system that includes first responders, EMS personnel, and dedicated nurses and doctors throughout the state. This system is coordinated by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services System.

New Zealand | Ahuriri Valley SAR operation continues

Dingleburn Track, Ahuriri Valley | 9 May 2012

Extensive ground searches in the Dingleburn Track area of the Ahuriri Valley today have not been able to locate missing Dunedin tramper, David Charles Palmer (53), or find any significant clues.

Mr Palmer went into the area on what was believed to be a three to four hour tramp on Saturday (5 May). A search for Mr Palmer has been underway since Sunday evening.

Today 14 teams of around 50-60 SAR volunteers from Central Otago, the Catlins, Twizel, Tekapo, Fairlie and Wanaka have combed the rugged and remote terrain in cold weather conditions. The terrain includes beech forest and bush line tussock up to about 1800 metres in altitude. Three dog teams also took part in the search.

Two helicopters, including the Airforce Iroquois, dropped ground search teams into the area. The NZ Fire Service Command truck has also assisted with communications.

Resources today have been concentrated around the Dingleburn Track in an area roughly where SAR risk management practice indicates that a person is most likely to be if they are off the track.

Police and SAR advisors say that they remain hopeful of finding Mr Palmer and are continuing to put in their best effort possible.

Police would like to acknowledge the significant support for the search from the local Ahuriri Valley community.

The search is expected to continue tomorrow.