H-SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Dec 11, 2012 1:35 AM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

SB Co. Sheriff's Office unveils $2.7M refurbished rescue helicopter

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office unveiled a new aircraft on Monday, and said the helicopter, named "Copter 3", is going to change the way it helps the community.

Sheriff Bill Brown said, "It is a true multi-mission capable helicopter."

Brown called the new helicopter a masterpiece at a christening ceremony at the Santa Ynez Airport on Monday. He said the helicopter is also a complete air ambulance, capable of hoisting people and drugs, and it's also ready to put out fires.

"It was rebuilt from the ground up from a surplus military helicopter that originally went to the Jefferson County, Colorado Sheriff's Office," said Brown.

While in Colorado, the helicopter carried some notable passengers, including former President George H.W. Bush, Mother Teresa, and the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. It also served as a medical rescue standby during the Columbine shooting in 1999.

Starting on Monday, the Sheriff's Office said the aircraft became the sixth helicopter in the county's fleet.

Valerie Walston, the public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue team said it was an aircraft much needed.

"So when we go out and we help these patients, it's paramount to protect our own safety so we don't become a victim ourselves. So, getting a new helicopter is critical for this county," said Walston.

The Sheriff's Office said the community understood the need and stepped up.

Brown said, "no tax payer dollars went into the building of this helicopter."

The refurbishing of "Copter 3" was possible because of private donations from the community, said the Sheriff's Office.

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