Night Vision Awards Winners Honored at APSCON 2019

The Night Vision Awards committee announced the 2019 recipients of the Night Vision Awards held in Omaha, Nebraska at the Airborne Public Safety Association Conference. Recipients were honored at the CHI Health Center in the Junior Ballroom from 1600 to 1730 on July 18th.

“It is always a fun process preparing for the Night Vision Awards and this year was no different,” said award emcee Scott Emerine. “Reading about so many stories about lives saved, and caught suspects because of the use of NVGs is inspiring.The judges selected some great recipients from the numerous entries.

The 10-Year Service Award is awarded to a unit/company that has successfully flown with Night Vision Goggles for ten years. The recipients for this award include Boston MedFlight and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office-Spokane Regional County Air Support Unit.

“The meaning of the award is complex,” said Mark Onorato, who serves as the Captain for Boston MedFlight. “To understand the meaning of the award, its best to understand the Boston MedFlight’s core values: collaboration over competition, investment in excellence, the culture of safety, strength from partnerships, a responsibility to share our knowledge, and compassion is a form of care, too. One of the technology advancements, which made a significant impact on safety, is the incorporation of NVGs.  Since Boston MedFlight incorporated NVGs into our operation, we have worked with night vision industry leaders to maintain a fleet of the most technological advanced NVGs as possible.”

Undersheriff of Spokane County, Dave Ellis said, “The Spokane Regional Air Support Unit, (SRASU), is honored to be awarded the 10-Year Service Award at APSCON. The SRASU has a firm commitment to safety, and the use of NVGs has been instrumental in keeping our flight crews safe.  The use of NVGs, along with accreditation through the Airborne Public Safety Accreditation Commission, has allowed the SRASU to have a perfect safety record through its 15 years of existence.  In addition to enhancing the safety of our crews, night NVGs have also enhanced our operational effectiveness when conducting search and rescue and also law enforcement missions.  Numerous rescues were conducted as a direct result of the effective use of NVGs.”

The 15-Year Service award is given to a unit/company that has successfully flown with Night Vision Goggles for fifteen years. The recipient for this award is The Los Angeles County Fire Department, Air Support Unit.

Tom Short, Senior Pilot with Los Angeles County Fire Department, Air Support Unit said, “The unit has flown thousands of accident/incident free hours using NVG’s since that time and continues in the present day to serve in a distinguished and safe manner at all hours of the day and night throughout its operational area.The mission of the Los Angeles County Fire Department is to protect lives, the environment, and property by providing prompt, skillful, and cost-effective fire protection and life safety services.  The Air Operations Section strives to live up to that expectation of service every single day.”

The 20-Year Service Award is given to a unit/company that has successfully flown with Night Vision Goggles for twenty years. The recipient for this award is The Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit.

Lieutenant Brian Olmstead with The Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit said, “The Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit is honored to be recognized for the last 20 years of using night vision goggles to aid in our Air Support operations.  We are very confident that over this time, numerous lives have been saved, and our air crews have come back safely due to the technology of night vision goggles. It has been a game-changer in both the law enforcement, rescue, and firefighting world.”

The Community Awareness Award is given to a unit/company that has demonstrated proven leadership and pioneering NVGs flights in their community. This award is given to those who raise awareness about the need for NVGs, help other organizations obtain NVGs or work to bring goggles to their fleet to enhance safety in their community.  The recipient of the award this year is The Los Angeles County Air Support Unit.

Senior Pilot Tom Short with Los Angeles County Fire Department said, “We are aware of our legacy and leadership in the Public Safety Aviation industry as a long-time fire service aviation program.  It’s exciting to be a part of the growing number of programs that are now using NVG’s in the fire suppression role at night.”

The Mark of Excellence Award recognizes a unit/company that signifies dedication to quality and excellence in their operation. This year’s recipient is The Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit

Lieutenant Brian Olmsted with the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit said, “The Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit is proud to receive the Mark of Excellence for conducting the rescue of a hunter.  The ability to find and rescue the hunter was extremely aided by the use of night vision goggles.  Had we not had them, the rescue would have been much more difficult and would have placed the aircraft crew and the victim in far more danger.”

The International Advancement Service Award is given to a unit/company that champions the need for Night Vision Goggles and systems outside of North America. This year’s award will be jointly awarded for the first time in Night Vision Award history to Coulson Aviation, Emergency Management Victoria, and Kestrel Aviation for their collaborative and cooperative efforts.This award was granted to all three for their collaborative efforts fighting fire at night in Australia.

Andrew Crisp Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner said, “Night firebombing in Victoria has been an exciting milestone in our firefighting capability. The success of the trial shows how night vision technology could help firefighting efforts and better protect Victorian communities. The international recognition tells us that other parts of the world are looking at and learning from what we’re doing around night firebombing, and similarly, we have an opportunity to learn from others.”

Ray Cronin Kestrel Aviation’s Managing Director said, “Kestrel have led the fire aviation field in helicopters in Australia with innovative advancements including its unique tanking system, event logging including live dissemination of information to agencies and video mapping systems. Moving into the realm of night vision fire bombing was the natural next step for Kestrel to once again lead and with its in-depth understanding of the intricacies of the complex regulatory requirements, including the world first with hover refill. While night firebombing has been conducted for many years in the USA, the Australian fire ground demanded the need for remote snorkel uplifts of water to ensure it became an efficient capability. Kestrel sought approval from CASA in 2017 with operational trials commencing in January 2018. Once approved to conduct night firebombing Kestrel joined EMV and Coulson Aviation to carry out live fire trials in March 2018 which completed the full approval process including snorkel water uplifts. Kestrel is proud to have contributed to the join initiative of Emergency Management Victoria which was utilized as a full night capability over the 2018/19 season.”

“When selecting recipients, the awards committee knew these three units have come together and achieved great results, making their choice very easy to make.  To see collaboration taking place that is helping an entire nation rethink how they combat the devastation of fires is exactly why this award was created. They not only raised the safety standards in Australia but also are helping other nations rethink the use of NVGs at night to fight fires.” said Emerine.

Night Vision Award sponsors Aviation Specialties Unlimited, Night Flight Concepts, Vertical Magazine and Rotorcraft Pro Magazine was proud to sponsor the 2019 Night Vision Goggle Awards.

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