Dangers of air operations

Those of us who benefit from these important airborne assets must always consider the risks versus benefits of calling a helicopter


Our sincere condolences to the Pima County, Ariz.,Sheriff's Department and the family of pilot Loren Leonberger after this tragic helicopter crash Monday.

We often take helicopters for granted in the fire and emergency services.

Like many of you, I've experienced the uplifting feeling of hearing approaching rotor blades while working a critical patient.

However, this story also reinforces the inherent danger of air operations, even in a routine situation with a very experienced pilot.

The availability of helicopters for medevac, search and rescue (SAR), aerial reconnaissance, and wildland firefighting missions continues to improve across the United States.

That's generally a good thing, but those of us who benefit from these important airborne assets must always consider the risks versus benefits of calling a helicopter; especially to the brave men and women who operate them.

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel — FireRescue1's editorial advisor — is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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