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Ventura County Sheriff's Office
Friday February 4th, 2022 :: 04:13 p.m. PST


Board of Supervisors Approves New Helicopter

February 4, 2022
County Board of Supervisors invests in new emergency response helicopter to support Ventura County emergency aviation operations
Ventura, CA – The County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved funds for the purchase of a Bell 412EPX helicopter for the Ventura County Aviation Unit (VCAU). The new model helicopter will modernize and expand search and rescue capabilities. “One never thinks that they or their loved ones might need to be rescued from dangerous situations, but it certainly happens,” said Chair of the Board of Supervisors Carmen Ramirez.  “Now because of the excellent state of the County’s finances and planning for the future, we have been able to purchase this new helicopter. I am so pleased that we can support this effort.”
“The Bell 412EPX is an ideal choice for a rescue aircraft for our Aviation Unit fleet,” said Sheriff Bill Ayub. “The aircraft’s small footprint, advanced technology, economic operating cost, and low maintenance needs in comparison to the rest the fleet will provide significant value as we serve the residents of Ventura County. It will allow us to provide increased availability for emergency services in and around the county and even exceed the level of performance that we need to operate safely and efficiently.”
The $14.5 million helicopter provides significant advantages for aerial search and rescue missions carried out by the Sheriff’s Office. The varied terrain of Ventura County, that consists of offshore islands to peaks of almost 9,000 feet, requires a versatile and powerful helicopter. As a commercial grade aircraft, the helicopter has capabilities that will support search and rescue, medical evacuation, and law enforcement missions as well as watershed flights and firefighting missions.
“Our combined Sheriff and Fire Air Unit is a first-class air unit that is the envy up and down the state because of the quality, what it can do and because it is a joint Fire and Sheriff Air Unit,” said County Executive Officer Mike Powers. “It is very, very rare. Counties come to us often wondering how they do it and it’s amazing that they do. The Board’s careful fiscal discipline has helped to set aside funding to make this purchase possible to best serve our community.”
The aircraft – which can carry up to 12,500 pounds.,14 passengers, and 375 gallons of water – offers exceptional performance in high winds, hot weather and high altitude – all conditions that the search and rescue teams often experience when responding to calls for missing individuals who often find themselves in distress while on the trails of the Ventura County backcountry. It will arrive in October 2022.
“We appreciate the Board of Supervisors support of the Ventura County Aviation Unit and funding for this welcomed enhancement. It will further our ability to provide excellent public service throughout our County,” said newly appointed Fire Chief Dustin Gardner.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Aviation Unit was established in 1971 and became a joint operation in 2009 through a cooperative agreement with the Ventura County Fire Department. Aviation Unit crews are trained in such specialties as night vision goggle operations, scuba diving, hoist rescue, swift water rescue, and emergency medical procedures. Between January 2020 and January 2022, the VCAU has flown a total of 1,605 flights – 502 of which have been rescue and medical evacuation missions.  The Sheriff’s Office plans to sell one of their aging Huey helicopters once the new Bell 412EPX helicopter arrives and is placed in service.  

Ventura County Sheriff's Office
800 S Victoria Ave
Ventura, CA 93003

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 805-654-9511

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