CHP open house explores depth, breadth of agency

November 25, 2018

NEEDLES — An open house at the Needles Station of the California Highway Patrol Nov. 17 drew dozens of spectators to learn about the state agency’s activities, gain insight into careers, and see some of the assets employed in enforcement and education.

Joe Medina, public information officer for the Needles Station, explained the event included a career booth, a child safety seat display, an equipment booth, patrol cars and a helicopter on display.

Activities included a bicycle rodeo, an impactful demonstration of why it’s important to always wear a seat belt, some exercises by K9 Jack, shots from a taser and a strong warning against driving under the influence.

The CHP is a valuable resource for those who want to make sure an automotive child safety seat is properly installed and effective. Medina was setting appointments for follow-up visits to the station to inspect the lifesaving equipment and to teach owners how to install a seat properly. Call the Needles Station at 760-326-2000 with any questions about these lifesaving devices.

Medina was also charged with running the bicycle rodeo. Youngsters exhibited their skill at weaving through a set of cones to demonstrate low-speed control and obstacle avoidance. “Riding fast is easy,” said Medina; “riding slow is hard. I challenge them to ride slowly.” The exercise also focused on proper helmet fitment and other safety considerations.

The seat belt demonstration involved a piece of specialized equipment: a pickup truck cab mounted on a mobile stand that uses an electric motor to spin it over sidewise, approximating the forces experienced in a single-vehicle rollover accident. A test dummy, secure in a seatbelt, survived the first run with little more than bumps. With the seatbelt removed the flailing dummy was slammed off every surface of the cab before being violently thrown out through a window; surely fatal to a human being.

The helicopter, on static display in the parking lot, proved an eye-catching draw. Airship H82, part of Inland Division Air Operations, is stationed in Apple Valley to serve San Bernardino, Riverside, Inyo and Mono counties. Officer Steele, piloting the craft, explained the mission was three-fold: law enforcement, search and rescue and medical evacuation. The craft is manned by a pilot and flight officer/paramedic and equipped with a color video and forward looking infrared camera, a 50 million candlepower spotlight, a hoist, and a ‘med-wall:’ comprehensive first aid supplies for trauma victims in labeled quick-access bags at the rear of the cabin. The cabin itself can be quickly reconfigured to transport a person on an included aluminum litter and allow the paramedic to work on them in flight.

Heard that helicopters don’t fly at night? That’s not the case any longer as crews are now equipped with night-vision goggles.

Medina’s taser demonstration also drew some oohs and ahhs: delivering 50,000 volts to a range of 25 feet two darts, one above and one below the waist, are wired to the roughly pistol-shaped launcher which allows the officer to re-apply shocks as necessary. Each taser is equipped to fire twice.

The demonstration that seemed to attract the most interest, predictably enough, was K9 ‘Jack:’ a 2-year-old Belgian malinois. His handler, Officer Cichella, explained that the Sacramento headquarters of the CHP supplies the dogs. Handler and new K9 then train together for about three months before beginning active patrols. Training goes on for several hours a month as long as the dog’s duties continue.

With a nose 500 times more sensitive than a human’s, the K9’s primary task is drug interdiction, seizing millions of dollars worth of illegal narcotics in the course of a year. K9s are also trained for suspect apprehension; they’ll tackle a suspect on command and can be remotely released from the patrol vehicle in case of emergency.

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