CIG mulls second new police chopper

| 08/04/2019 | 21 Comments
Cayman News Service

Prince Charles travels between islands on the new RCIPS helicopter

(CNS): The old RCIPS helicopter was very badly damaged in the recent crash on the Owen Roberts Airport apron and government may need to buy a second new machine, depending on the findings of the insurance company. While the brand new helicopter is already on duty and was involved in its first medevac emergency this weekend, bringing a cardiac patient from Cayman Brac for emergency treatment on Grand Cayman, the damage to the existing machine is much worse than first believed. Premier Alden McLaughlin said his preference was to replace the 21-year-old chopper if possible.

Answering questions in Finance Committee on Friday, as members began dealing with government’s supplementary appropriations bill for 2018, which covers millions of dollars of additional public spending, McLaughlin said that the old machine was “much more seriously damaged” than first understood and discussions were now ongoing with the insurance company as to what the next steps will be.

He confirmed that government was committed, “one way or another”, to having two helicopters, as it did not want to go back to having a gap in the surveillance or rescue capabilities.

The premier said he did not want to get ahead of things because he had not yet discussed the matter with Cabinet and the insurance company had still not given their conclusions on the matter. He nevertheless made it clear that he preferred the idea of a new machine, as he said maintenance costs are low compared to the running costs of the older helicopter.

The new machine was purchased for around $11 million but the cost will be shared by the UK, which has committed to covering 25% of both the capital and operating costs in order to ensure it is used in emergencies for other overseas territories.

McLaughlin explained that the new Airbus chopper, which arrived on island last month, required almost $2 million in appropriations that had not yet been budgeted.

The machine arrived on island sooner than anticipated as a result of the old machine crashing, and its first notable duty was to carry the Prince of Wales from Cayman Brac to Grand Cayman during the brief royal visit last month.

Since then it has been patrolling and on Saturday afternoon it conducted the medical evacuation from the Brac. The chopper, which was already in the air, diverted to the Sister Islands and collected the patient from Faith Hospital and took him to the Shetty hospital in East End.

“Of all the benefits having a helicopter has brought to Cayman in recent years, the capacity to render medical evacuations to our residents on the Sister Islands is one of the most critical,” said Acting Superintendent Brad Ebanks, Head of Specialist Operations.

“We have a strong partnership with the HSA and are glad that the expedited arrival of the new and larger helicopter enables us not only to continue this lifesaving activity, but also to evacuate two patients at once if necessary.”

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Category: Crime, Crime Prevention, Health, health and safety

Comments (21)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Most police forces have done away with operating an helicopter because it is simply too expensive to operate and are looking at other methods and technologies such as drones. While I support having a helicopter since we do not have any defense capabilities but having two, is unnecessary and wasteful – something the taxpayer should ask about the operating, personnel and other associated costs to determine if our government can afford to operate two helicopters,
    Do the due diligence and decide if it is worth it.
    Maybe investing in proper radars will enhance law enforcement capabilities to secure our borders.
    And I support having insurance companies pay for medivac. Do you think when a patient is air-ambulanced offshore that it is free? Insurance companies have gotten an easy ride. I hope that the police insurance covers this type of operation. God forbid if something goes wrong!

    • Anonymous says:

      Most police forces such as? All major countries I know still have helicopters and where the police don’t the hospitals do, in our case the police helicopter isn’t so much a police helicopter but more a medical and border patrol helicopter that just so happens to sit with the police.

      • Anonymous says:

        Spot on 9.13am. This is the countries helicopter and multi role. It was bought by the government for the police to operate, but credit to the Police Air Operations Unit that have seen well beyond that Police role and developed the Unit over the past years into a mutifaceted response capability, including the Air Ambulance service that no country is getting rid of. They have seen the wider picture and given us in the Cayman Islands a capability that is the envy of many ‘other countries’. The hurricane response was just one of the many acheivements, and all that was done with the 20 year old helicopter. It is encouraging to see that they appear to have identified an excellent replacement.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It would make sense to purchase a 2nd new helicopter… the one that was damaged was getting old and would eventually need replacing anyway. While $11,000,000 might seem like a lot of money, look at the amount of lives that will be saved with this equipment. You can’t put a price tag on that.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I hope the new helicopter is fitted with a gay ray, which works like a thermal imaging camera, but can detect gayness. Actually, that’s not true, it’s a made up device, but I bet several MLAs are googling it now, just to check.

    • Anonymous says:

      Is that like an electronic gaydar

      • Anonymous says:

        Possibly yes. Though I believe an electronic gaydar also detects pedophiles and people polygamists, as they’re almost the same thing… according to our enlightened MLAs.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Fix the old one and stop wasting money.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Remember folks, can’t stop locking up our young men for cannabis spliffs, where else are we going to get easy $500 fines to pay for its massive fuel and maintenance fees to keep it up there?

  6. Johnny Be Good says:

    Yes if the chopper is more important than the Port, which is obviously the case. Ditch the Port and get a new chopper and maybe get two new CAL planes from the same maker to boot.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If we can afford it, we should have it. The idea was to have two for very good reasons; that must still be achieved.

    • Anonymous says:

      Errrrm you can’t, the UK paid a huge chunk of the cash, 11 million pounds I believe… Meanwhile back iat the ranch..( The UK )the vast majority of the 14 or so machines are over 15 years old. The airborne force has been cutcin half over the last 5yrs. Hardly any medevac by police,it’s all done by charities who raise funds for air ambulances.
      83 million population and 14 copper choppers…plus we part pay for yours..a joke.

      • Anonymous says:

        Article clearly states the helicopter was bought for $11 million and UK paid for 25% as it will be expected to be used across all territories when needed. So UK paid $2.75 million, CI paid $8.25 million.

      • Troll Patrol says:

        Since you think the UK paid 11 million pounds you obviously didn’t read or understand the article, as the comment below explains. It can therefore also be assumed you are not aware that the Air Operations Unit of the RCIPS has been given a regional role in times of emergency given the UK’s legal obligations for defence and security of its remaining Caribbean territories and its assumed responsibility to help its former territories as well. The aid that was given to our fellow nations (we might not be a country but we are a nation of people) was given at the direction of our political leaders and was successful and appreciated. That followed on from joint landing and disaster relief exercises between HMCS, RCIPS, Governor’s Office and the UK Navy among probably others, that laid the groundwork for Cayman to become the regional disaster relief base for the UK. That is why the helicopter was invested in (not paid for) by the UK. You guys pretty much bought the exclusive use of the helicopter whenever you need it anywhere in the region for a quarter of its price. I’d say that’s a fair deal, and a strong argument for the UK investing in a second helicopter based in Cayman as well.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not a huge chunk of the cash but 25% with the understanding that this allows the U.K. to deploy the helicopter to other U.K. overseas territories in the Caribbean region. This is cheaper than sending assets from the U.K. in the event of an emergency in the region ultimately saving U.K. taxpayers money.

        Believe this is not a handout. The U.K. does not do anything for free. There are ALWAYS strings attached.

    • Tom says:

      UK government agree to pay 25% of purchase and operating costs only if Cayman islands willing to help other Caribbean islands (with British link) in event of bad storms.

      • Anonymous says:

        In the merest hint of an impending storm it would be grounded anyway. What’s the range..oh yeah 260 miles if you Chuck all the rescue crap out of it first or if you wanna take that stuff and a few crew (that have been on a diet) then half the 260.
        That isn’t very far to reach other islands with a Brit connection.
        Who’s kidding who ?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Are the RCIPS billing the insurance companies for this service? They should be.


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