Posted 1:55 PM 9/24/2012 : PCSD: New helicopter will help fight fires, protect the border and save lives
We're getting a closer look at Pima County's newest tool to fight crime and save lives. On Monday morning the Sheriff's Department debuted it's new helicopter at Kino Sports Complex. Deputies say it is a vital addition, especially since it's the county's first helicopter that can help perform rescues.
Until now the county relied on the Department of Public Safety or the military. The new helicopter will also help fight fires and protect the border. Pima County is also making history with this particular model, the American Eurocopter AS350B3E. It's the first agency in the country to buy it for law enforcement purposes.
The model is typically used for high performance missions in hot conditions and high altitudes, something that will certainly come in handy during the summer months.
"It's sad to say but there have been a number of instances over the past couple of years where had we had the opportunity to get to the victim quicker, they might have survived," said PCSD Bureau Chief Richard Kastigar.
This helicopter replaces the one that crashed Northwest of Tucson in January 2011, killing the pilot and injuring three others. The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause but an insurance settlement from that crash helped fund the new one. That money, combined with a federal grant and about $1 million in racketeering funds, helped cover the $3.8 million cost.
Pilots are currently undergoing training but the helicopter should be ready for action within the next couple of months.
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