2019 Night Vision Awards recipients announced

2019 night vision awards
Left to Right: Pilot for LA County Tom Roberts; Vertical Magazine's Mike Reno; Nightflight Concepts' Adam Aldous and David Luke; ASU's Vikki Rosplosh; Lyn Burks of Rotocraft Pro; ASU's Twain Josephson, Jake Hart and Eldlin Elvira; Mark Onorato of Boston MedFlight; Corporal Jeff Welton TFO Spokane; Deputy Krystal Bitzer TFO Spokane; and Lieutenant Steve Jones and Undersheriff Dave Ellis, both of Spokane.

The Night Vision Awards committee announced the 2019 winners of the Night Vision Awards during a ceremony held in Omaha, Nebraska on 18 July

The 10-Year Service Award, which is given to a unit / company that has successfully flown with Night Vision Goggles (NVGs) for 10 years, was given to Boston Med-Flight and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office-Spokane regional County Air Support Unit.

Mark Onorato, Captain for Boston MedFlight, accepted the award, explaining that since incorporating NVGs into their operations, Boston MedFlight has worked with night vision industry leaders to maintain a fleet of the most technologically advanced NVGs as possible.

And Undersheriff of Spokane County Dave Ellis also commented: “In addition to enhancing the safety of our crews, NVGs have also enhanced our operational effectiveness when conducting search and rescue and also law enforcement missions. Numerous rescues were conducted as a direct result of the effective use of NVGs.”

The 15-Year Service award was given to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Air Support Unit, for having successfully flown with NVGs for fifteen years. And the 20-Year Service Award went to the Santa Barbara Country Air Support Unit, for (you guessed it) 20 successful years flying with NVGs.

Tom Short, Senior Pilot with Los Angeles County Fire Department, accepted the award on behalf of the Air Support Unit, explaining that the unit had flown thousands of accident/incident free hours using NVGs and continues in the present day to serve in a distinguished and safe manner at all hours of the day and night throughout its operational area.

Lieutenant Brian Olmstead collected the award for the Santa Barbara Country Air Support Unit, who said that the unit was honoured to be recognised for such an award. “We are very confident that over this time, numerous lives have been saved, and our air crews have come back safely due to the technology of night vision goggles.  It has been a game-changer in both the law enforcement, rescue, and firefighting world,” he added.

The Community Awareness Award is given to those who raise awareness about the need for NVGs, help other organisations obtain NVGs or work to bring goggles to their fleet to enhance safety in their community. The recipient of the award this year was the Los Angeles County Air Support Unit.

The Mark of Excellence Award, which signifies dedication to quality and excellence in their operation, went this year to the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit. And the International Advancement Service Award, which is given to a unit/company that champions the need for Night Vision Goggles and systems outside of North America, was, for the first time, jointly awarded to Coulson Aviation, Emergency Management Victoria, and Kestrel Aviation for their collaborative and co-operative efforts.

“When selecting recipients, the awards committee knew these three units have come together and achieved great results, making their choice very easy to make,” said award emcee Scott Emerine. “To see collaboration taking place that is helping an entire nation rethink how they combat the devastation of fires is exactly why this award was created. They not only raised the safety standards in Australia but also are helping other nations rethink the use of NVGs at night to fight fires.”

Emerine also enthused that preparing for the Night Vision Awards was always a fun process. “Reading so many stories about lives saved, and caught suspects because of the use of NVGs is inspiring. The judges selected some great recipients from the numerous entries,” he concluded.