Emergency Helicopter Rescue

All my life, I’ve wanted to be a hero. It’s not that I want the title, but I want to do what a hero does. I want to be the difference between someone’s life and death. My name is Dick Sine. I hang underneath this helicopter and do mountain rescue with Two Bear Air. We cover basically all of Montana, all of Idaho and portions of eastern Washington. This is a map of the western United States. Two Bear Air is located up here in Kalispell, Mont. These red pushpins show the actual location of rescues we’ve done. You can see how far south and west and east we have gone. When you have to have a helicopter come pick you up off the top of a mountain, you are not having a good day. We rescued a young boy, a 16-year-old boy, and he had a dog with him. And, obviously, you’re not going to pick a 16-year-old boy up and leave his dog in the woods to die. So I got that dog in my arms, and we came up on the hook with that dog squirming. To know that you’re doing that for somebody and giving them a very real second chance at being alive, that’s pretty rewarding. Most of our missions when we’re actually on site are under 12 minutes from the time we get on site to the time we’re leaving with the person, and that’s pretty darn fast for a mountain rescue. This is what we look like when we’re mission ready. We have our helmet on. We’ve checked our visors to make sure they’re functional. We’ve checked our communications system, double-checked our harnesses to make sure that all the contact points are tight, and then we’re lifted off with the carabiner. My career started in law enforcement. I ended up becoming a deputy sheriff in Mansfield, Ohio. And what was unique about that is I was the first police officer in the state ever under the age of 21. I didn’t have the goatee then, so things have changed. When I retired from that career, I came to Montana here and transitioned to a medical career. The things that I’ve been able to apply from the first career is situational awareness, because I have that cop sense in the back of my head. I wish I had gotten into emergency medicine much sooner. The other thing that I wish I had done very early on is pursue a higher education in what I did. When I went back to college, I was 50. And I would highly encourage anyone that’s retired to take advantage of the fact that you have that time, because you’d be surprised what you can do. Being a hero is something that I think I strive for every day. I don’t think I will ever reach that goal. I think the challenge is in reaching for it, not achieving it.

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