Bell teammates recently joined over 120 dignitaries who gathered at the Washington DC headquarters of the US Park Police (USPP), more commonly known by them as the Eagle's Nest, to celebrate the unit's 50 year anniversary, their life-saving accomplishments and their exclusive use of Bell aircraft.
"Bell congratulates the USPP's Aviation Unit for protecting our nation's valuable assets and serving people across the country for the past 50 years," says Bell public safety manager Terry Miyauchi. "We continue to proudly support the vast missions of the USPP and the dedication of the flight crews."
In 1973, the USPP started its Aviation Unit with three pilots, three rescue technicians and a Bell 206B JetRanger. Over the course of 10 years, the unit expanded its mission base by adding a Bell 206B-3 JetRanger and a Bell 206L-3 LongRanger to its fleet.
Today, the USPP Aviation Unit currently utilises two Bell 412s and a Bell 206L-3. Operating as a unit under the National Park Service, it provides services to federal parks and monuments within the national capital region, and relies on its helicopters to provide law enforcement, medevac, search and rescue, high-risk prisoner transport and Presidential and dignitary security support.
Over its 50 years of service, the USPP Aviation Unit has provided countless aid during dire situations that require urgent action. During the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, USPP Aviation Unit notably jumped into action using its Bell 412 duo as it courageously responded to people in need of life-saving care.
After receiving a call from the 'aircraft crash phone' indicating that a commercial aircraft had crashed near the Pentagon, the USPP Aviation Unit started up one of its Bell 412s, Eagle I, and headed directly towards the Pentagon to respond to the crash within two to three minutes of the call. Following its take off, the USPP aviation crew installed a mass casualty kit aboard the unit's second Bell 412, Eagle II, taking off within minutes of Eagle I. Upon arrival, both Eagle I and Eagle II immediately began providing emergency medical evacuations of critically injured people near the scene.
As they transported several injured victims to the hospital for immediate care, the crew also used their Bell 412s to serve as a command-and-control platform, providing federal and local agencies, including the FBI and Secret Service, with critical safety information as they monitored the situation from the heavily smoke-filled sky. Using the Bell 412's downlink capabilities, the crew were able to fly over the Pentagon and transmit images instantaneously to the agencies on the ground to scope out the damage from the attack. The crew also spent several hours utilising the Bell 412's infrared heat detection device (FLIR), which allowed the USPP to locate where the fires were and transmit the information to the fire departments on the ground.
In the days immediately following September 11th, the USPP Aviation Unit continued to use its Bell 412s for a variety of support missions, including assisting the Secret Service with providing protection for the president and the White House.
"The selfless and lifesaving actions of the USPP flight crews and medical professionals aboard the Bell 412s that day were beyond courageous and honourable," says Miyauchi. "Time and time again, the advanced capabilities and enhanced reliability of the Bell 412 continues to aid our customers with the ability to focus on what's most important; saving lives."