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Police helicopters and what they're doing ..

I get asked constantly what the Baltimore police helicopter is doing flying or hovering over a neighborhood. It's a near impossible question to answer because pilots of the city chopper, named Foxtrot, patrol like any officer in a car. They fly over and look for things and may hover over a routine car stop to watch over the officer or help in a car chase.

The other day in my neighborhood, a police officer arrested a man for being disorderly outside a bar and the helicopter hovered overhead to shine a spotlight on a dark street. Seeing that the officer was alone, the observer in the helicopter called for backup. That brough a half dozen police cars and all the neighbors came out, even though it ended up being the most ordinary of arrests.

I thought of that story when I spotted a statement from Mayland State Police on a particularly busy day for one of its MedEvac helicopters:

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TROOPERS IN THE AIR CAN BE JUST AS BUSY AS TROOPERS ON THE GROUND

(Frederick, MD) – When some people see a Maryland State Police helicopter in the air, they might think the crew is peacefully flying above the frenetic fray of life as a patrol trooper, but often, State Police helicopter crews are moving from call to call just like their fellow troopers on the ground.

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The rapid pace of a day in the life of a helicopter crew was demonstrated yesterday by the crew of Trooper 3, based in Frederick. Just before 10:00 a.m. yesterday, Trooper First Class Greg Lantz, a flight paramedic assigned to Trooper 3, was at the Frederick hangar when he monitored a police radio call for a serious motor vehicle crash in Libertytown. Based on his experience, TFC Lantz could tell responding medics would likely need a helicopter transport of the critically injured victim.  He notified State Police Pilot Russ Zullick and the two were in the aircraft and ready to fly when the call came in minutes later.

After lifting off from the crash scene in Libertytown, Pilot Zullick headed across Central Maryland towards the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center while TFC Lantz provided emergency medical care to the patient in the back of the aircraft. While caring for the patient, TFC Lantz was also monitoring the radio and communicating with Pilot Zullick.

Moments before landing at Shock Trauma in Baltimore, TFC Lantz heard a police radio broadcast for an armed robbery and a police pursuit that was occurring in Montgomery County. Knowing the helicopter could provide vital police assistance, TFC Lantz notified his pilot and staff at Shock Trauma that they would be doing an immediate turnaround. Before the off-loaded patient's stretcher had reached the elevator doors at the Shock Trauma helipad, Trooper 3 was lifting off and heading to Montgomery County.

Within minutes, TFC Lantz was actively monitoring the on-going police pursuit and was providing information to the crew of State Police helicopter Trooper 2, which had been dispatched from Southern Maryland to assist. As they approached the scene in Montgomery County, TFC Lantz learned a shooting had occurred and a person was wounded.

Pilot Zullick landed Trooper 3 at the scene and TFC Lantz provided medical assistance along with the ambulance crew already on the scene. After completing a delicate and critical medical procedure, TFC Lantz radioed that Trooper 3 would be transporting the person with the gunshot wound to Shock Trauma. A medic from Montgomery County joined the crew of Trooper 3 for the flight to Baltimore and helped care for the patient.  Less than an hour after delivering their first patient to Shock Trauma, the crew of Trooper 3 was landing again with their second patient of the day.

"The missions Trooper 3 were involved in during just a short period of time yesterday exemplify the versatility of our multi-mission aircraft, as well as the important support our helicopter crews provide to first responders on the ground," Major A. J. McAndrew, Commander of the Maryland State Police Aviation Command said. "The expertise of our helicopter crews enables them to readily switch roles from providing aerial surveillance support to providing rescue services, emergency medical care, and aerial medical evacuation without missing a beat, or more importantly, wasting precious minutes which can be so important to a critically injured person's survival."

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