Ready for anything-Nassau County (NY) Police Dept

Long Island police department uses 3 Bell 407s to provide law enforcement, rescue and medevac services.


All 3 Nassau County Bell 407s carry a full complement of advanced life support equipment for the medevac mission. TFOs perform both police and emergency medical duties.

Despite persistent fog and rain, the Nassau County Police Dept Aviation Unit-alongside units from the City of New York Police Dept (NYPD) Aviation Unit-performed many lifesaving medevac missions. Aircrews are assigned as pilot and TFO/paramedic.

The TFO is tasked with providing both police services-including operating the FLIR and Spectrolab Nightsun searchlights on police missions-and emergency medical care during medevac flights.

The Aviation Unit logs almost 2000 flight hours a year. In 2007, it responded to 180 emergency medical calls requiring on-scene medical assistance only, plus 132 that required transport. Nassau County's geography leads to unique situations.

Some areas are densely populated, but there remain some areas, particularly along the south shore ocean beaches, that mean a fairly long ground transport in emergency medical cases.

"In critical cases, the helicopter can mean the difference in a transport of a few minutes versus almost 45 minutes by ground ambulance, especially in heavy beach traffic. In these situations it makes medical sense to transport the patient by helicopter," notes Paramedic/Police Officer Jim Sarnataro.


NCPD Aviation Unit acquired its third Bell 407 last year, ending a 10-year transition from Bell 206L LongRangers, which it traded in on a 1-for-1 basis.

Spinola says he always liked the Long Ranger but felt it was underpowered. The 407, he says, gives the NCPD Aviation Unit the Bell reliability and support it needs-and it has plenty of power.

Spinola is also happy to see fleet standardization again: "Naturally, it's much safer and effective when all aircrews are using one set of standards and equipment." Nassau County Police Dept is particularly proud of the support it gives to and receives from neighboring police department aviation units, namely NYPD and Suffolk County Police Dept.

Cockpits were designed in-house. Equipment includes the Wescam 12DS/200, AeroComputers tactical mapping, Spectrolab Nightun and a Wulfsberg RT5000.

During the Sep 2001 terrorist attacks and other major disasters, the agencies worked closely to get the job done. To maintain this spirit of cooperation, NCPD hosts an annual "Starcom" task force fly-in which brings in local, state and federal police and military airborne units for an all-day seminar.

Starcom focuses on the concerns, needs and resources of the airborne law enforcement community. This year, almost 15 agencies participated, with agencies flying in from as far afield as Delaware and New Jersey. A recent assignment demonstrated this cooperation and support at the local level.

Four men had committed a home invasion robbery just east of the Nassau County border in Suffolk County. NCPD Pilot/Police Officer Sean Fagan and TFO/Police Officer Jim Sarnataro responded to assist in the search.

Three of the 4 suspects had been apprehended fairly quickly by ground officers, but the 4th suspect was proving elusive. For the better part of an hour, he was running and hiding in different locations throughout the neighborhood.

Finally, Fagan and Sarnataro, using their Bell 407's FLIR system, located the fugitive hiding in a storm water catch basin and directed in ground units for his apprehension. The final haul was 4 suspects, a shotgun and a quantity of crack/cocaine.

Sarnataro recalls, "Although there were several agencies involved, we all worked very well together and were able to take some really bad guys off the street." All 3 Bell 407s are equipped with the L3 Wescam 12DS/200, Spectrolab Nightsun, AeroComputers tactical mapping and Wulfsberg RT5000.

Each aircraft is also equipped with a Breeze Eastern hoist for rescues and tactical operations. Spinola describes the Wulfsberg as an exceptionally useful tool. "In our region there are literally dozens of first response agencies," he notes. "The Wulfsberg allows us to communicate over a wide range of frequencies, allowing for smoother operations."

As for the future, Spinola sees homeland security remaining a top priority, since the region is "certainly an international target."


Most maintenance is done in-house by 3 assigned sworn officer A&P mechanics. Chief Mechanic Stan Routh oversees the maintenance side of the house and is particularly pleased with Bell's product support. He says, "Bell is incredibly responsive to our needs-and they're always ready, willing and able to help us in any way."

The maintenance technicians attend factory training annually. A recent study, citing statistics from the US Department of Justice, names the Nassau/Suffolk region as one of the safest areas in the US proportionate to its population.

Nassau County Police Dept and the Aviation Unit are playing a major part in keeping it that way. Ken Solosky retired from the New York City Police Dept Aviation Unit as chief pilot after 21 years of service. He is currently chief pilot for the Newark (NJ) Police Aviation Unit.


Ken Solosky retired from the New York City Police Dept Aviation Unit as chief pilot after 21 years of service. He is currently chief pilot for the Newark (NJ) Police Aviation Unit.



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