As I went for a walk last week and the coastal cliff, I noticed a helicopter hovering near the lighthouse. As I took a closer look, I could see that there was a person stuck about half way down the cliff, with no way to get up or down. The cliffs are shear and it would be about a 200ft fall. The helicopter lowered a rescuer down to the person. They wrapped the rescue gear and straps around them, swung them away from the cliff, then hoisted them up into the helicopter.
I thought about how amazing that is to rescue people with aviation. I myself had rescued many people as a swim instructor and lake lifeguard. I was trained as an EMT and am happy to be useful in these areas of need. I was able to leave the cockpit before the events of Sept 11th, 2001 in order to help passengers with medical situations. Now, we are no longer allowed to leave in case it may be a ploy to get us opening the flight deck door.
There are many fields where aviation directly saves lives so I want to talk about several that come to mind.
- Airlines. We actually carry organs on occasion for transplant recipients in different states. We get a special designation with Air Traffic Control as “Life Flight” if it is a time sensitive item. We have onboard medical kits and first aid kits along with defibrillators and other items to help save lives until we can divert to a nearby airport.
- Charters. There are dedicated companies that provide services with all types of different aircraft depending on the need. Patients, doctors, nurses, body parts, etc. are flown in these ambulance style aircraft and helicopters so that people can receive the medical care needed.
- Fire Bombers. These companies are located near dry regions in order to launch immediately in case of fires. They can scoop the water from local lakes or oceans and can use fire retardant material that gets dropped on the fires. They coordinate with local fire fighters on the ground and forecasters to plan and predict the best places to drop their loads. Their first priority is to save people and their homes while risking their own lives.
- Police. There are many types of aircraft the police use to hunt down the bad guys. Sometimes you see them hovering near or flying by in order to protect the general public from any further harm. They sometimes get shot at with guns and lasers while trying to help us.
- Military. We love our military and thank them for their sacrifices. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard defend us from harm while being put in tough and challenging situations. In addition to warfare, they also provide supplies, rations, medicines, lifts, etc. to us at home in time of disasters or to fellow friendly countries to help save lives.
Aviation saved my life. I am grateful for all I have been able to do and I appreciate the time, effort, bravery, and strength that these above heroes provide for us each and every day. Please let me know if there are others we need to add to this list!