Tuesday 17 September, 2019

RCIPS helicopter continues vital work in Dorian-ravaged Bahamas

The RCIPS helicopter will continue its deployment in The Bahamas in support of the relief effort following Hurricane Dorian.

The extension request has come from the Bahamian Government, who have been very appreciative of Cayman’s support. The extension has been approved by Governor Martyn Roper and Premier Alden McLaughlin.

The aircraft deployed last week with two crews - Nigel Pitt and Richard Morcombe - and four tactical flight officers, Neil Mohammed, Ronnie Pollard, Greg Banks Jr and Daniel McIlhagga.

And joining the RCIPS Air Ops crew this week is a new pilot, Captain Elaine Hunter who will deploy to The Bahamas on her first week in the role.

The helicopter, which is based in Nassau, is supporting humanitarian efforts taking multiple daily flights to the effected islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama. The two crews are working around the clock going back and forth to the islands in support of the relief effort.

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The Cayman crew has been tasked with various medevacs of injured people, transporting essential specialists and carrying vital equipment. As of Sunday, the H145 helicopter had flown 21 flights in just three days.

Neil Mohammed, Tactical Flight Officer revealed: “We deployed very quickly into the field delivering supplies and specialists. On Sunday we took six flights to Abaco, extending from Marsh Harbour to Coopers Town. The Air Ops crew transported United Nations specialists to assess humanitarian aid requirements. We delivered specialist technicians to start recovering the hospital on Abaco. And we have been evacuating displaced people, including on one flight, two babies who were evacuated to Nassau. There’s still so much more we can do.” 

The RCIPS Air Operations Team have been working alongside RFA Mounts Bay in their relief efforts. The two teams meet each year to plan for disasters such as this. Now on day four of the deployment, the helicopter crew has been tasked with supporting the UK. This will include transfer of personnel, blood and medical supplies.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, who visited the Islands at the end of June and accompanied the Air Ops Unit on a training exercise with RFA Mounts Bay’s Wildcat helicopter, sent thanks to the RCIPs crew via social media. Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab also updated Parliament on how the UK is helping The Bahamas and highlighted that the Cayman helicopter had been deployed.

Governor Roper said: “The RCIPS helicopter crew are working tirelessly in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. By extending the deployment, Cayman will be able to support the relief effort in The Bahamas further. The Air Operations Unit and RFA Mounts Bay trained together this year and we can now see how vital such exercises are. I’d like to thank all the crew for their efforts in what must be an extremely difficult environment.”

Premier McLaughlin added: “As we approach the 15th anniversary of Ivan this Wednesday, many of us will remember the support we were offered by our Caribbean brothers and sisters during our time of need. The images we are seeing following Dorian will bring back many memories of not just Ivan but also Hurricane Paloma that impacted Cayman Brac in November 2008.

"We stand ready to offer the Bahamians further support if required.”
  
The crew has now been joined by their Arrow Aviation engineer, Alex Bordelon who arrived on Saturday and will be carrying out preventative maintenance checks during the deployment.

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