Public Information Office
When piloting a helicopter, the last thing you want to hear is a loud bang along with alarms and warning lights going off, especially when flying over a busy street. But Volusia County Sheriff’s Air One pilot Michael Markovich kept a cool head when it happened to him one January evening, and relied on his experience and training to safely land in a road construction area despite the loss of the helicopter’s power system. His actions that day earned him the honor of the Florida EMS Pilot of the Year Award Wednesday night during a ceremony in Orlando.
The Florida EMS Pilots Association selected Markovich from several strong nominees. The Association said that this selection by his peers is a testament to his outstanding ability and professionalism in the Air Medical Field. The award presentation took place during the 18th Annual Excellence in Emergency Medical Services Awards ceremony at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando.
Since 1996, Markovich has been in Sheriff’s Office helicopters, both as a flight paramedic and a pilot. On January 7, 2008, catastrophic failure of the helicopter turbine resulted in loss of the aircraft’s power system and sent him and his flight paramedic plummeting to the ground. They had been on their way to a pick up a trauma alert patient near DeLand when a loud bang was heard and the helicopter yanked hard to the left while warning lights and alarms went off. Markovich drew upon his extensive training to maneuver the helicopter to a road construction area alongside a busy highway. He had to make split second adjustments to avoid hitting construction equipment, but his superior skills landed them safely.
As award presenter John Bixler, Bureau Chief for Emergency Medical Services for the Florida Department of Health, read to the awards audience an account of the emergency landing that ended with no significant injuries, he couldn’t help but exclaim, “That’s awesome!”
When given a chance to speak on stage, Markovich was humble, only saying, “It’s an honor to even be considered for this award. I accept it on behalf of all aircrews across the nation.”
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