There is still no guarantee that the police would have quick access to helicopters in a future emergency situation over one year after the 22nd July terrorist attacks.
Six bases in Norway station rescue helicopters and these aircraft can be ready in 15 minutes. They are not just used for the police. It can also take up to half an hour for the helicopter to fly to anywhere in mainland Norway from any of these six sites.
There is currently only one base in Norway where helicopters are on standby throughout the day and can be used to transport police in cases of emergency.
Police also now have two helicopters themselves, but still cannot use them at all times due to the lack of pilots. There is also a shortage of systems operators, Aftenposten reports.
The two last pilots have been hired for September, but have still to go through training, along with the technical personnel. This means continuous police helicopter capabilities will not be in place before the end of the year at the earliest.
Minister of Justice Minister Grete Faremo believes that the response time of helicopters has improved since last summer. She points out police can now use search and rescue helicopters in the event of a serious incident, and military helicopters have been put on two-hour standby.
“Of course I am interested in assessing how we can make our own systems better and to make sensible investments to improve preparedness,” she told NRK.
“However, I would caution against thinking solely about investing in helicopter capacity. We can both get better cooperation with the military, as well as utilise existing arrangements more.”
Torbjørn Aas from West Finnmark police advocates a public debate to talk about the police helicopter issue.
“It may well be that ordinary people and decision-makers are satisfied with the current situation, but I think we should discuss our way towards [concluding upon] the kind of preparedness we should have. Thereafter, we can agree on its consequences and costs.”
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