The Sonoma County Fire District (SCFD) has announced that Sonoma County 1, an Airbus H135 helicopter, will join its fleet. The aircraft is well-known for its versatility and use in aerial fire reconnaissance and suppression, and in search and assist operations.
The helicopter has also been configured for air medical transports and is outfitted with ICU-level medical equipment and has advanced avionics and safety features. The crew will also have access to night vision goggles for nighttime operations and fire reconnaissance operations. The aircraft will also be equipped with a flexible firefighting bucket, capable of holding up to 120 gallons of water, for aerial water drops.
The Airbus H135 helicopter is operated as part of a public-private partnership between SCFD and REACH Air Medical Services. REACH’s experienced pilots, flight nurses and flight paramedics operate the helicopter and it is maintained by their on-site aviation maintenance technicians.
SCFD provides administrative support and fire training and leads the integration into current county-wide firefighting and EMS operations. Missions flown for firefighting operations will have an SCFD Helicopter Fire Specialist onboard to provide tactical aerial firefighting command.
The partnership has also announced that its new public safety helicopter base in Sonoma County Airport is now in service. This base will provide aerial fire reconnaissance, search and assist capabilities, and critical care medical transport to Sonoma County and surrounding areas.
Mark Heine, Fire Chief, Sonoma County Fire District, said: “Our partnership with REACH Air Medical Services brings together two strong organizations forming a strong partnership to enhance the delivery of emergency medical services, rescue services, and critical aerial firefighting services to enhance the safety of our communities.”
Sean Russell, Pacific Region President for REACH’s parent company, Global Medical Response, said: “To see our first base transform from an air medical operation-only to a base that will serve our community in an expanded capacity is a proud moment for all of us. We look forward to a very long and successful partnership with the Sonoma County Fire District and to enhancing our services to the community.”