All of us at the AIR-ONE Emergency Response Coalition believe deeply in our mission, which is to provide emergency response, search and rescue, and assessment capabilities in the form of air support when lives or property are threatened by man-made or natural disasters and/or acts of terrorism. Our mission is further defined in our Vision Statement:
Our mission began in 2003 with a privately owned Eurocopter EC135 helicopter. This aircraft was made available at no cost to the Winthrop Harbor (IL) Police Department (WHPD) for law enforcement operations. With the blessing of the Winthrop Harbor Mayor and Village Board of Trustees, a program was created to reach out and offer this service to other agencies, without cost to requesting agencies or Winthrop Harbor taxpayers.
Experienced pilots and tactical flight officers from various Police and Sheriff Departments came together and trained tirelessly, all as volunteers, to provide this much needed service. These volunteers responded to countless call-outs for air support, including searching for lost persons, assisting with felonies in progress, and life-saving rescues over Lake Michigan and in New Orleans.
The Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition, Inc. (LEAC) was incorporated in 2005 as a not-for-profit, 501(c)3, charitable organization, for the purpose of assisting in the operation of the service.
Plans were soon underway to obtain surplus helicopters through a U.S. Department of Defense program , and to fulfill the vision of making this service available to as many law enforcement, emergency management and fire/rescue agencies as possible. Through the hard work and dedication of our Board of Directors, and the Illinois Law Enforcement Support Office, three Bell OH-58 (Kiowa) and one Bell UH-1V (Huey) surplus Army helicopters have been obtained by Illinois law enforcement agencies. One Bell HH-1N (twin-engine Huey) has been obtained by a Wisconsin law enforcement agency.
With the assistance of the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System and many other resources, we are refurbishing and equipping these helicopters to realize the vision.
In September of 2011, our not-for-profit organization name changed to AIR-ONE Emergency Response Coalition, Inc. to more clearly define our affiliation with all 1st responder organizations.
In October of 2015, the AIR-ONE Public Agency was formed in Illinois. The not-for-profit organization remains in place to support the new public agency in providing the same air support services to 1st responder agencies. For more information please visit www.IllinoisAirOne.org.
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