Ride Along with NYPD’s Air-Sea Rescue Unit

don’t know what can happen. It’s a different, a different mission every day.>>DETECTIVE VINCENT APREA: [NYPD Pilot] Everyday
here is rewarding. You get to fly. It’s a, it’s a good place to be, the best seat
in the house to the greatest show on earth. To be successful in this Unit, you have to
remember that you’re a police officer first, and then you’re a pilot. We seem to pull it all together last minute.
We’re masters on the fly. These pilots with the NYPD Aviation Unit are
the eyes in the sky for the city’s police department. And that’s only part of their
job. They also perform air-sea rescues – about 800 of them last year alone. The Daily got front row seats as the unit
ran one of its weekly rescue simulations. I happen to enjoy the air-sea rescue part
of it because I feel like I might actually get to save someone’s life that day. In the case of a rescue, you try and do what
you can, with what you have, and even the best you got maybe isn’t enough. In the course of saving lives – they put
their own lives at risk. Flying helicopters in general are inherently
dangerous. They’re not meant to fly. It’s a lot of moving parts, and if something stops,
the helicopter stops flying. Anytime the helicopter’s low on the water,
you’re having – you know, in deploying the divers or re – or recovering them by
hoist, that’s the most critical part. First thing you do, once you deploy you’re
gonna give the ok signal – nice and high out of the water. You’re not waving – if
you’re waving like this, you’re in trouble. We’re coming in and we’re stopping the
exercise. Here’s how the simulation works: First a
mannequin is dropped into the water… Then police divers jump from a chopper, the crew
chief lowers a basket behind them – once the victim’s on board the basket and hoisted
to safety, then it’s the divers’ turn. Today’s training mission, compared to a
regular rescue, was pretty much dead-on, with the exception of it’s happening right off
a controlled environment. In real life, they never know what they’re
going to face. Like one day, six years ago. We had Cory Lidle’s plane that hit a building,
the Yankee ball player. So we weren’t sure if there was another terrorist attack taking
place. That was very unsettling, and it was kind of scary at first, but even being up
in the air, there is no detachment, ’cause you’re right there. You’re just, you know,
waiting to see what happened. It was an accident and we were just wondering if it had been
intentional or not. This kind of work takes a special breed of
pilot. Detective Nolan says she grew up wanting to be in the cockpit. I’m the first female pilot to be checked
out as Pilot-in-Command in the Air-Sea Rescue Helicopter. As a female pilot, I try not to
label myself that way. I just tend to try to just – fit in with the guys and that’s
the end of it. Detective Aprea came to the unit another way.
He learned to fly for the NYPD after his squad was devastated by September 11th. But I happened to be in Emergency Service
during 9/11. It was a you know, like every September. You’ve heard a million stories
about it, so here’s a million and one. There was a time where you didn’t know if you
were dead or alive. Smoke and being trapped under – I think under a UPS truck at the
time, just kinda, just kind of waiting for it all to stop. I’d lost my sergeant, Mike Curtain, and
John DeLara and Detective Joe Vigiano. They were in my squad, and they were there that
day. And I’d — I’d seen them that day, and poof — you know, and then they were
gone. I
just really didn’t have my heart in it anymore. I said, I wanted always to fly. And I have
this great opportunity. You don’t realize, from the time we hit
the button to start the helicopter to the time we put it back on the dolly, to the last
rivet in the fuel truck, that, you know, it’s a combination of, of people wanting to do
their job. It’s a brotherhood. And it’s excellent. AIR-SEA RESCUE SCRIPT NYPD ESU: AIR-SEA RESCUE – PART 3

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