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Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office shows off equipment
TULALIP — The grounds of the Tulalip Resort Casino showcased a demonstration on Thursday, June 14, of the same skills and equipment that members of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Air Support Unit used to rescue a 13-year-old Burien, Wash., boy from a ledge just a few feet from 270-foot Wallace Falls on May 20.
Snohomish County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Quistorf was the chief pilot for that rescue mission, and after he and roughly half a dozen fellow members of the Air Support Unit demonstrated a flight-and-rescue set of maneuvers near the Tulalip Resort using the Snohomish County Helicopter SnoHawk 10 and the Airborne Tactical Extraction Platform, the helicopter touched down so that onlookers from the Washington State Council of Police and Sheriff’s Conference could examine the “AirTEP” more closely.
“This thing could pick up 10 people, if they were small enough,” Quistorf said of the AirTEP, which opens up like an upside-down umbrella as soon as it hits the ground to release the personnel in its pockets, which fold up and lock securely. “The platform itself can carry around 2,000 pounds, if you’ve got low fuel and light gear. It’s got backup systems, but the rope that holds it is beefy and rated for about 3,300 pounds.”
While the AirTEP includes places for personnel to clip in safety harnesses, its pockets will also hold civilians whom rescuers can remove from high-rise buildings, tall mountains or other steep elevation points with no other avenues of escape.
“With that boy, we didn’t have a trail that we could move him to,” Quistorf said. “I think Wallace Falls was our first opportunity to use the AirTEP as part of a mission. The AirTEP cost about $80,000, and it’s already proven itself to be a very valuable tool. It’s multiple applications include search and rescue, hazardous response, firefighting and transportation of SWAT.”