By Staff Writer | February 1, 2009
PUBLIC | POLICE
Maryland is the only jurisdiction in the country where the police run a statewide medevac system. The budget for the program is about $20 million a year. But, operations have been under fire following a fatal crash and critical audit in September. The Federal Aviation Administration began investigating the helicopter operations of the Maryland State Police late in November. Initial investigations noted insufficient record keeping and problems retaining technical personnel.
However, late last month, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced the allocation of $33.6 million to buy three new helicopters each year for four years to replace the entire fleet of the Maryland State Police Aviation Command’s 12 Eurocopter AS365N Dauphins.
The Command is a multi-mission unit that provides 24/7 law enforcement, homeland security, search and rescue, and medical evacuation. The Command first accepted delivery of its aging Dauphin N1 models in 1990, making some of the oldest ones 18 years old. Each twin-engine helicopter is equipped with a state-of-the-art medical interior, FLIR, GPS and NightSun. By the end of 2002, the Command had upgraded most of the fleet to N3s. Buying the new helicopters is part of an on-going state plan to improve public safety and emergency response. "Public safety is the most important priority of any government. Supporting our first responders in the work they do is an important part of fulfilling the most fundamental responsibility that we have to our state — to safeguard the lives of our citizens, and to ensure the safety of our neighborhoods," O’Malley recently told a group of county officials and medical professionals.