MSP 'copter program needs a rescue, too

February 28, 2009|By KEVIN KNUSSMAN

The Maryland State Police (MSP) Aviation Command's helicopter program is a state-wide multi-mission service performed by troopers and civilian employees working for the citizens of Maryland.

The medevac mission has made the program a worldwide model and has supported the state's EMS program (also a world-wide model) since its inception in 1970.

However, other missions performed by the MSP helicopter program (search and rescue, law enforcement, homeland security) are just as important, as was recently illustrated by the rescue basket hoisting of a mother and daughter from a car flooded by raging waters in Bethesda. These essential, often life-saving missions are too diverse to fully discuss in this article.

But the multi-mission role of MSP helicopters in Maryland's public safety efforts is, without question, critically important! Maryland citizens are well served by this "full package" of services offered by the MSP helicopters.


So there you have it! Maryland has some of the very finest hospitals and doctors in the world. The MSP helicopter program enables access to that care and can rescue victims from a variety of predicaments on both land and water! In addition, the helicopters perform an endless variety of missions in support of law enforcement and fire/rescue departments throughout the state. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Some state political leaders want to "privatize" or fragment the helicopter program by eliminating the multi-mission capabilities of state police helicopters. What state legislator can tell his or her constituents that this program is a waste?

Or, that their local helicopter base is going to be closed or only able to offer limited services?

What state official can say a helicopter operated by a private corporation will be able to provide the comprehensive emergency services currently available to the citizens of Maryland from the MSP helicopters?

The Maryland State Police helicopter program is waiting for a rescue. State Senators E. J. Pipkin and John Astle have sponsored legislation to destroy the multi-mission capabilities of the state police helicopters. The legislation would split the law enforcement and rescue abilities from the MSP medevac helicopters and would be the end of Maryland's multi-mission public safety helicopter program.

You may voice support for the program by telling your legislators to "rescue the state police helicopter program!" Their telephone number is 1-800-492-7122.

Kevin Knussman retired from MSP in 1999 following a 23 year career, 17 years as a flight paramedic. He still works and volunteers in the Maryland EMS system.

E-mail him at His comments do not necessarily reflect the opinion of any group with which he is affiliated.

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