The Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard, the aerial arm of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, has been named by the Helicopter Association International (HAI) as winner of the 2017 Salute to Excellence Leonardo Humanitarian Service Award. HAI noted that since the unit was set up in 2005, it has provided ‘an invaluable service far past its shores for the benefit of those in other Caribbean nations’ using both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. “The Air Guard is looked upon by Caribbean Community nations with admiration and support for the humanitarian services it provides in response to natural disasters, medical emergencies and security threats,” said HAI.
The award will be presented at the annual Salute to Excellence Awards dinner during the HELI-EXPO trade show in Dallas, Texas, US, in March.
Announcing the win, HAI stated: “The Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard operates two Metro Merlin C-26B fixed-wing and four AW139 helicopters, and has expanded its capabilities and its achievements in the decade since it was formed out of the Coast Guard Air Wing. The unit has rescued lost hikers, airlifted victims of shark attacks and injured sailors, fought and extinguished threatening bush fires, helped vessels in distress, evacuated stranded individuals from otherwise inaccessible land and conducted medical evacuations from vessels at sea.
“The Air Guard is regularly deployed to perform complex missions both at home and in the wider Caribbean region. It has provided support to St Lucia, St Vincent and Dominica during floods and natural disasters and on a regular basis transports critically ill and injured patients from the island of Tobago to the hospital in Trinidad. The Air Guard’s mission scope exceeds that of larger countries and those with much greater resources.