The children waited in the shade of the tall trees next to the baseball field for the arrival of two helicopters. One chopper, an emergency air ambulance and the other carrying a camera that captured the movements of the air ambulance in flight and as it landed on Atlantic Highlands Fireman’s Field.
About 65 participants from the Atlantic Highlands Summer Recreation program and 150 children from the Horizons program gathered at Fireman’s Field in the borough to get up close to emergency vehicles, including the two helicopters that landed on the field.
Horizons is a non-profit enrichment program designed to promote the potential of a diverse population of children from low-income families. Guided by a professional faculty in a nurturing environment, the program emphasizes academics, the arts, intramural sports, swimming, and social growth, according to Horizons executive director, Lori Hohenleitner, who is also a Borough Councilwoman in town.
In an effort to showcase professions that children in the program might not consider, Lori Hohenleitner worked with board member Jane Orr, to arrange the helicopter visit so the children might meet the pilots and personnel. Mrs. Orr’s husband, Tim Orr is a Lead Production Film Pilot for Gotham Films in Linden, New Jersey. He has flown for several films, including: Joker, Pelham 123, Meet Dave, Top Gear, and Succession. Gotham Films also works for commercial advertising agencies. On this day, Mr. Orr was filming Atlantic Health Systems, Air One as it traveled from its base in Netcong, New Jersey to Atlantic Highlands. (see video of landing)
Horizons utilizes facilities at Rumson Country Day School and Christian Brothers Academy for after school and summer programs. Ms. Hohenleitner planned initially for the helicopter landing to take place at CBA, but due to ongoing construction at the school they were unable to use the field there.
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She sought permission to bring the event to Atlantic Highlands and include the children from the town’s Summer Recreation program. Also invited were emergency services personnel from the Atlantic Highlands First Aid and Safety Squad, the Atlantic Highlands Fire Department and the Atlantic Highlands Police Department.
The nearly 200 children were in small groups on the ground and around picnic tables. Police Chief David Rossbach explained his job as the leader of the police department and how he came up through the ranks, starting out as a dispatcher. He answered a few questions before the helicopters began to arrive with a whoosh-whoosh sound from the wash of their blades.
Details about the Helicopters
The ambulance helicopter landing demonstration was filmed by Gotham Films using a state-of-the-art gimbal camera mounted on the front of the Airbus H125 helicopter. It captured images of the air ambulance from several angles, above and behind.
When they had landed, small groups of children were brought to each helicopter where the pilots and flight crew answered questions.
Atlantic Health Systems operates two EC-135 helicopters. Air One was piloted by Steve Masi and its crew included Flight Medic Sean Lynch and Flight Nurse Bob Maiullo. Masi answered questions from the children like: How long are blades? (15 feet and they are made of carbon fiber with a leading metal edge. They cost about $86,000 per blade). How fast can you go? (155 mph) Do they ride on the outside? (No everybody is inside at all times.)
According to Flight Nurse Maiullo, the crew does about 45 flights per month, 60% of which are inter-facility, like transfers from a community hospital to a larger regional hospital.
The children also had an opportunity to see the fire trucks and police cruisers at Fireman’s Field. One boy even got special treatment in the ambulance. Councilman James Murphy, also a First Aid Squad driver-in-training, said that while waiting with his group at the picnic tables, the boy scraped his leg on a rusty piece of metal. He walked over to the ambulance where he was treated.
Lori Hohenleitner said, “I think the kids had fun.” It seemed evident by the smiles and eager questions.