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Dueling Rescue Helicopters in Orange County

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Air battle being waged between Orange County sheriff, fire helicopters over emergency calls:

NB: a fully audio recording is included in this linked report.

http://www.ocregister.com/2017/05/05/sheriff-copters-steal-rescue-calls-from-fire-copters/

Quote

Emergency radio recordings show that helicopter pilots with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the Orange County Fire Authority bickered, and that sheriff pilots ignored a direct order to “stand down,” during a pair of rescues in Laguna Beach and Orange on Saturday, April 29, revealing an escalating battle between the two agencies over helicopter-related emergencies and who responds to them.

I simply cannot get past the completely unprofessional conduct that took place during this incident. All of the individuals involved in this verbal battle over the radio completely ignored the primary rule in rescues: "the patient's welfare is always the primary focus!"

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I'd guess the Sherriff's Dept,. chopper crew would win.. they're armed!! LOL! Do they have a faster heli too? What a clusterf...

Is there some kind of hidden agenda? Some govt. payout for the most callouts? Or just departmental and personal egos?

This is biased to fixed wing, but I guess some rotary boys might be the same... Dos Gringos: I'm A Pilot song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdSj0_Fd4ds

 

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Seems a bit silly; you get a call saying you're not needed, all you do is say 'roger, we are RTB'. Pretty simple really.

 

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Not sure if they are worried about this pressure here. NJ has cut back the services and we are now down to one State Police heli unit that has to cover the entire state.

As I understand the situation, there wasn't enough demand to justify keeping two the NJ units in operation.

I can't check the audio from here, but it sounds terrible and unprofessional from the description. It shouldn't happen even if they are coming under pressure though that is only an assumption.

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21 minutes ago, Oracle427 said:

Not sure if they are worried about this pressure here. NJ has cut back the services and we are now down to one State Police heli unit that has to cover the entire state.

As I understand the situation, there wasn't enough demand to justify keeping two the NJ units in operation.

I can't check the audio from here, but it sounds terrible and unprofessional from the description. It shouldn't happen even if they are coming under pressure though that is only an assumption.

^ This.

Utility helicopters are extremely expensive to operate per hour and  when State and local governments are under pressure to reduce spending, helicopters are easy targets. There's no way to skimp on maintenance requirements (like with trucks and cars) and there is a finite number of qualified rotorcraft pilots. Some of this pilot shortage is due to Vietnam War era former military pilots retiring. And some of it is due to the fact that decades-long piloting  of a helicopter is bad for your back and neck. To make matters worse, parts for many older utility helicopters are hard to obtain and often are scavenged from salvage helicopters.

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For the benefit of those who can't listen to the recorded exchange, they carried on for just over fifteen minutes!

From one of the most knowledgeable commenters (emphasis in bond mine):

Quote

The OCSD Aviation Unit’s (Duke's) inability to work safely within the Incident Command System is a separate issue from pondering why they are trying to get into the rescue business in the first place.

Put aside their inability to work well within the public safety system (the reason multiple cities have prohibited Duke from operating within their jurisdiction) and the debate still seems to be very simple…

OCSD flies an Airbus H125:

- Single engine (no backup).
- Useful load of 2,204 pounds.
- Cabin area of 105 cubic feet (one crew member MUST be left behind at an incident and retrieved later).
- Cannot hoist an injured patient directly into the aircraft cabin therefore, the patient and rescuer hang outside the aircraft until it can land and reconfigure to load the patient inside. This is an unacceptable practice in most other aviation units and delays patient treatment and transport to the hospital.
- OCSD paramedics might have the minimal licensure required but most do not have ongoing experience because they do not work daily in typical Emergency Medical System situations. So far, most of their patients have received little or no care and in some cases outright wrong assessments and care (see OCEMSA complaints from Mission Hospital regarding OCSD care).

OCFA flies a Bell 412EP:

- Twin engine (safer if an engine fails).
- Useful load of 5,100 pounds (greater lift capacity and reserve).
- Cabin area of 220 cubic feet (room to treat a critical patient while flying).
- Ability to hoist a patient directly into the cabin (no need to land to reconfigure wasting precious time and no need to dangerously fly with the patient OUTSIDE the aircraft).
- EXPERIENCED paramedics active in the local Emergency Medical System who can recognize and intervene when the patient’s medical condition changes.

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