22-Jul-2022 Source: Maryland Law Enforcement
This month marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of a permanent Maryland State Police Aviation Command helicopter base in Southern Maryland.
On July 1, 1987, the Maryland State Police Aviation Command (MSPAC) opened the doors for the section, known through the Southern Maryland region as “Trooper 7.” The helicopter section was originally based at the Patuxent Naval Air Station, in Lexington Park. It moved to the St. Mary’s County Regional Airport in 1992. Due to the State’s unique geography, Trooper 7 routinely responds on backup missions for parts of the Eastern Shore to include the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County, Smith Island and Tangier Island.
Trooper 7’s crews responded to an average of 400 medevac calls, 16 law enforcement, and 25 search and rescue missions in 2021. Local emergency medical providers from St. Mary’s County have also delivered numerous patients to Trooper 7’s hangar for helicopter transport to a trauma or specialty care center when on-scene landings are not possible.
In 2021, Trooper 7 was the first MSPAC helicopter to land on the newly-opened Level II Trauma Center at the Capital Regional Medical Center in Prince George’s County. The same year, Trooper 7’s crew performed an aerial hoist rescue at the Cove Point LNG Facility after an employee experienced a medical emergency.
Today, there are 16 men and women staffing the Southern Maryland Section serving St. Mary’s County, along with portions of Charles and Calvert counties, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. This complement of personnel includes the MSPAC’s 2021 Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, Sergeant Tabitha Long, a 17-year veteran, and the Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year, Michelle Beatty.
Like all MSPAC sections, Trooper 7’s crews are some of the best trained aeromedical professionals in the world. Every mission is manned by two Nationally Registered Flight Paramedics – sworn Maryland State Troopers – who endured 26 weeks of the department’s academy and eight weeks of law enforcement field training on top of the nearly 1,500 hours of medical training before launching on their first mission. Those piloting Trooper 7 have a minimum of 2,000 flight hours for the Pilot in Command and 1,200 flight hours for a Second in Command prior to being hired. Like the paramedics, the MSPAC pilots must undergo an estimated 100 of hours FAA-recognized training, annually.
The personnel assigned to Trooper 7 are proud of the working relationship with their law enforcement, fire department and emergency medical partners around the region. Trooper 7, along with all MSPAC sections, continually focus on providing superior service to all patients, first responders and health professionals. As Trooper 7 celebrates its 35th anniversary serving the citizens of Southern Maryland, the MSPAC is proud the section’s history, service and tradition they have provided since 1987; those assigned to Trooper 7 and the MSPAC look forward to continuing this service for years to come.
The MSPAC has served Maryland citizens since 1970, and operates a fleet 10 helicopters from seven bases throughout the State on a 24/7/365 basis. Missions include medevac, law enforcement, search & rescue, homeland security, and disaster assessment. The success of rescues performed by the Aviation Command depends a great deal on the cooperative effort of local fire, rescue, EMS and law enforcement agencies.