Saturday, October 06, 2012

New Maryland State Police Medevac Helicopter Unveiled

MIDDLE RIVER, Md. (October 5, 2012)—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.

Source: Office of the Governor

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