The Ventura County Sheriff’s Aviation Unit began in 1971. In 2009, the Ventura County Fire District entered into a cooperative agreement in which the Aviation Unit became a joint venture between the Fire District and Sheriff’s Office. The Fire District contributes funding and staff to the operation. The unit has grown from one Bell 47 to the current fleet of four Bell UH-1 helicopters and one Bell Long Ranger. This unit is the only public safety aviation unit in the county and provides support for all local and state law enforcement and fire service agencies in the county. The missions vary between law enforcement, search and rescue (SAR), emergency medical services (EMS) and fire suppression missions.
The Aviation Unit is overseen by a Ventura County Sheriff’s Office captain who is supported by a Sheriff’s sergeant as well as a Ventura County Fire District captain. The flight crew consist of four full-time pilots, one part-time extra help pilot, four full time crew chiefs and 12 collateral crew chiefs. The unit is also supported by four maintenance technicians. The crew chiefs receive extensive training as rescue specialists, emergency medical technicians, and law enforcement observers. Air Unit flight crews are trained in such specialties as night vision goggle operation, scuba diving, swift water rescue, and emergency medical procedures. The flight crews are supplemented on medical/rescue missions by highly qualified medical personnel consisting of physicians, nurses, and paramedics.