The GDF needs modern helicopters for search and rescue

Dear Editor,

I had written in your newspapers back in July 2017 that the GDF needs to enhance their search and rescue equipment to include modern helicopters (‘Army, police must be better equipped’).

I had said in that letter that I had recalled that the previous government had gotten a grant from the Canadians or Americans to secure a fleet of new helicopters to assist with law enforcement and search and rescue. My letter had said that the coalition government should explore trying to get that same deal for GDF, if it is not too late.

Here we go again; we had the third plane crash in the interior (since my last letter a few months ago) and no ability of GDF to have their own large helicopter to carry the rescue personnel to the crash site to rappel down and evacuate the injured or do a recovery, thereby giving any survivors a chance of immediate medical care.

I read in newsroom.gy that the GDF special forces must walk with the body of a deceased pilot for 6-7 hours to get him to a point of extraction. This is totally unacceptable for the government not to have the capabilities to extract the deceased at a crash scene for a respectable and decent recovery. What if there were survivors to be extracted for urgent medical care? Do we ask the governments of Trinidad, Venezuela or Brazil to send a large helicopter to help us? I am fed up always hearing it is difficult terrain to do the rescue or recovery in a timely manner. Do we wait a few days to clear a helicopter landing area for the GDF small helicopter to land? Do we make the badly injured survivors walk out for 6-7 hours as well? This shouldn’t be happening here in Guyana when nearby Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica operate large helicopters for search and rescue, despite not having as harsh an interior as ours.

I hope the aviation sector and the travelling public hold the coalition government accountable to make a plane crash survival more than likely for pilots and passengers, and the recovery of the deceased more respectable for the bereaved family.

I can say unequivocally that I will not be taking any more flights in the interior or sending my family on flights unless the GDF develops search and rescue capabilities. Our lives are worth a lot more than that interior trip.

Hopefully, the travelling public will encourage the government to invest in search and rescue capabilities for the GDF to make it safer for all of us.

Yours faithfully,

Balram Bhagwandin

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