Saturday, September 10, 2005

Helicopters

From the comments:
The reports of helicopters being fired upon is not a fabrication. I work in a hospital in Mobile, Alabama that was receiving those patients being airlifted from the hospitals. Acadia Ambulance Service owns 25 medical airlift choppers and was assisting in the airlift. They pulled their choppers and the owner stated that he would not endanger the lives of his pilots because they had been fired upon while picking up patients.
What I said was:

It’s also worth noting that early reports of gunfire directed at helicopters seems to have been either a fabrication or at least overblown. The FAA had no reports of gunfire at aircraft, and no pilots have come forward either, at least to my knowledge.
I can't recall my original source, but according to the AP (via Maclean's), there were reports of a single shot fired at a military Chinook helicopter.

An air ambulance service official said that helicopter transfers of the sick and injured were suspended because of the shooting



"We won't go into the Superdome landing zone until security is restored," said Richard Zuschlag, president and CEO of Acadian Ambulance Service, which is running the evacuation of the sick and injured at the Superdome.

"We are now concentrating on the roofs of hospitals."

He also said that during the night, when a medical evacuation helicopter tried to land at a hospital in the outlying town of Kenner, La., the pilot reported 100 people were on the landing pad, some with guns.

"He was frightened and would not land," Zeuschlag.



"At the Superdome, we have a report that one shot was fired at a Chinook helicopter," [LA National Guard Lt.-Col. Pete] Schneider said, adding that the Chinook is "an extremely large aircraft."

Laura Brown, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman in Washington, said she had no such report.

"We're controlling every single aircraft in that airspace and none of them reported being fired on," she said, adding that the FAA was in contact with the military as well as civilian aircraft.
This means that, at most, a single shot was fired. I don't blame the pilots for being worried. That's justified and appropriate. I don't blame them for refusing to fly in there. That's probably the right choice for the safety of the patients, let alone the pilot and aircraft.

I want to emphasize that restricting press access and imposing bogus rules on what can be reported will only make rumors spiral out of control. Reports of a single shot fired was turned into a perception of general lawlessness which may itself have been excessive, though not fabricated.

I also may have misspoken in asserting that Blackwater Security was on site at the behest of the feds. Reports are coming out that BSG was hired by wealthy residents to protect their homes while they were away.

What did I say about class warfare? I don't begrudge the wealthy their protection, I just wish the same protection was available to the rest of the city.

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