The MD Helicopters Law Enforcement Award for 2015 goes to the crew of the United States Park Police Aviation Unit Eagle 1 for their role in responding to the shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 16, 2013, including the rescue of a critically injured shooting victim.
Located directly across the Potomac river from the Navy Yard, pilot Sgt. Kenneth Burchell and rescue technician Sgt. David Tolson, along with a local police officer to help coordinate radio traffic, reached the scene within four minutes of the initial request for help. After picking up a SWAT officer, the crew returned to the building, where a Park Police officer and four civilians had taken cover. After lowering the SWAT officer to help keep the rooftop secure, the crew hoisted the critically injured woman and airlifted her to a nearby hospital.
After returning to the scene and picking up Park Police officer Michael Abate, Eagle 1 returned to the scene to extract the three remaining civilians while Abate provided overwatch with a long gun from the helicopter above.
All told, the crew of Eagle 1 spent five and a half hours in the air that day, rescuing survivors and supporting ground personnel in their efforts to track down the gunman and secure the area.
The second-deadliest mass murder on a U.S. military base in history, the ordeal began at around 8:15 a.m. and ended at around 9:25 a.m. when police shot and killed lone gunman Aaron Alexis. During the rampage, Alexis, a former Navy petty officer, killed 12 people and injured four others working at the facility’s Building 197.