HAI recently announced the 2009 Eurocopter Golden Hour Award recipient, Chicago Fire Department Air Sea Rescue, Chicago, Illinois.
The Chicago Fire Department’s Air Rescue Helicopter unit was formed in 1965 with the delivery of two Bell 47G’s to Midway Airport. Initial training was through the Bell Helicopter Training academy. The helicopters were to provide aerial observation and command for large scale traffic and medical evacuation operations, and for rapid delivery of medical supplies.
In 1967 the unit formed a second location at Meigs Field, providing a water rescue mission alongside Chicago Fire Department Sea Rescue, and in 1979 the Air and Sea Rescue units merged. In 2001 the unit took delivery of its first twin turbine engine helicopter, a new Bell Model 412EP, improving rescue capability and safety. 2003 saw the closure of Meigs Field and the relocation of Chicago Fire Department Air Sea Rescue to the 95th Street Heliport.
On April 18, 2008, Chicago Fire Department Helicopter 6-8-1, piloted by Lieutenant Kenneth Straman and Firefighter/EMT Anthony Lisanti, responded to an incident of a child in a stroller being blown into Lake Michigan by a freak gust of wind. Having obtained the location from first responders, the helicopter hovered above the area where the child was thought to be while rescue divers Firefighter/EMT Brian Otto, and Firefighter/Paramedic William Davis dropped into the lake. After approximately four minutes the child was found at the bottom of the lake, still strapped in to the stroller. Otto then swam some 12 feet up to the surface, carrying the child still in the stroller.
Unit members immediately began resuscitation measures, which continued en-route to Children´s Memorial Hospital. Although the child had been under water for an amazing 15 minutes, after four months of intensive care he made a full recovery.
The unit defines readiness with 24 hours a day, 365 days a year service in aircraft, and powered zodiac inflatables fully equipped with underwater camera equipment. This service continually advances the reputation of the Chicago Fire Department as an innovator in many fields of rescue and fire suppression.
All winners will be recognized at Heli-Expo 2009´s annual "Salute to Excellence" Awards Banquet on February 23, 2009 at 8:00 pm in Anaheim, CA.