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FCPD adjusts medical helicopter staffing after flight cancellations

A police helicopter takes flight (via FCPD)

(Updated at 11:40 a.m. on 4/22/2022) Fairfax County police canceled three medical helicopter missions last week because no senior paramedics were available.

The Fairfax County Police Department operates the Medevac missions and must have a pilot and two paramedics — one of which must be a senior paramedic.

“While the Helicopter Division maintains senior paramedics strategically staffed across each shift to ensure 24/7 aeromedical response readiness, we are subject to the same unforeseen circumstances as anyone else,” FCPD said in a statement.

Police said the three canceled missions occurred on the same shift. One of the emergencies involved a suicide, the county’s fire department said.

FCPD said the helicopter division is “at full pilot and flight officer/paramedic strength” in terms of the number of personnel, but it made adjustments to mitigate gaps in senior paramedic staffing, moving one to a different shift to ensure full operational capacity.

In a statement released Friday, police said the helicopter division consists of five senior paramedics, but there are four additional senior paramedics outside the division who can staff the aircraft on occasion.

The helicopter division has two choppers with 22 full-time positions, including pilots, paramedics, an operational medical director, maintenance, and administrative staff.

A fourth medical mission, also in the first half of April, was canceled due to the weather.

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