Established in 2006, the Helicopter Emergency Lifeline Project, Inc. (HELP) was born out of the founder’s 25 years of helicopter experience and dealing with disasters. Specifically, after the Great Flood of 1993 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he realized that the agencies and groups tasked with responding to disasters lacked the availability of helicopters to facilitate their rapid response and the saving of lives.
Often, coverage of a disaster is shown through the camera lens of a news helicopter circling the area while the first responders on the ground are not as fortunate to have that same use of a helicopter to aid them in their mission.
A Failure of Initiative: The Final Report of the Select Bipartisan Congressional Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina addresses this problem in detail. The report sites a lack of situational awareness and a destruction of communications which adversely affects the responders’ ability to function appropriately and efficiently.
The Select Committee concluded that top military officials were relying upon news reports for information – information used to plan and deploy resources. Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum told the committee, “We focused assets and resources based on situational awareness provided to us by the media, frankly. And the media failed in their responsibility to get it right. We sent forces and capabilities to places that didn’t need to go there in numbers that were far in excess of what were required, because they kept running the same B roll(news footage) over and over….and the impression to us that were watching it was that the condition did not change. But the conditions were continually changing.”
Scott Luttrell, the founder of HELP, knew that something needed to be done to enhance situational awareness and interagency coordination in a disaster.
He knew that something needed to be done to bring aid to disaster victims as quickly as possible, to help prevent the horrors that people of all ages, from all walks of life, often face having survived the initial impact of a disaster only to find themselves in a battle to survive until help arrives.
His answer, the Helicopter Emergency Lifeline Project, Inc. By providing a specially equipped helicopter dedicated in large part to being the eyes and ears of the first responders and Emergency Management officials, HELP’s life saving mission is to enable those agencies to bring aid to more victims in a shorter period of time.
We hope to help prevent a repeat of the “lack of situational awareness” that took place during hurricane Katrina. Our desire is to help ensure that the victims of future disasters never feel forgotten.