Senior Constable Alex Barron – Air Wing
Meet Senior Constable Alex Barron of the Air Wing. Having come from a commercial flying background, Alex was very keen to be
in a position to utilise his flying skills and combine his passion for
Policing. Alex has completed 8 years of general duties policing and is now a
valued member of the Air Wing.
What made you apply for Victoria Police?
joining Victoria Police I had completed the first 8 weeks of the NSW Probationary
Constables Course, I had 6 weeks to go, but I was offered a Pilot job in a
small commercial night freight company. Since I was a fully trained commercial
Pilot I took the flying job, but a part of me always enjoyed the Policing role.
I really enjoy the variety of work, and the luxury of being able to move within
the various specialised units of the organisation.
years of General Duties, along with other units with Victoria Police did you
complete prior to joining the Police Air Wing?
first joined Victoria Police a member advised me that you would need on average
a minimum of 7-8 years general duties policing. Prior to joining the Air Wing,
I had completed 8 years of service with Victoria Police. Although we do accept
applications from members recently confirmed as constables, the more experience
you have, the better chance you have of being competitive in the application
What interested you in working at
the Victoria Police Air Wing?
come from a commercial flying background, I was very keen to be in a position
to utilise my flying skills and combine with my passion for Policing. The
opportunity of working on the Air Ambulance was also incredibly appealing, as
was the variety of tasks that the Air Wing attends.
What does the role of Tactical
Flight Officer actually involve?
We effectively have three
distinctive roles for the Tactical Flight Officer depending on what helicopter
they are working.
- On the
Police Helicopter (Air 490) there are two Tactical Flight Officer's, one sits
next to the pilot, the other sits in the middle of the helicopter. The front
seat Tactical Flight Officer's role is essentially the "mission
controller", they are required to assist the pilot with general
navigation and minor roles within the cockpit, they provide the link between the
middle seat TFO and the pilot (in respect to positioning the helicopter over a
task). They are also responsible for the air-to-ground communications
with Police members. The front seat TFO manages the tasks that the helicopter
responds to, with consultation of all members on board. If the helicopter is
being used for a winch rescue, the front seat TFO is the winch operator. The
middle seat TFO's responsibility is the operation of the Forward Looking Infra
Red Camera (FLIR)/TV camera, the mapping software (an electronic version of the
Melway). The middle seat TFO can assist the front seat TFO and the pilot with
navigation. They are also responsible for any passenger safety and well being
on board the helicopter. When winching, the middle seat TFO is the person that
goes down the winch wire. It is the aim of the Air Wing to have all TFO's
trained and qualified at the highest level to enable each TFO to occupy any
seat in the helicopter, apart from the Pilot's position.
- On the
Air Ambulance Helicopter (Air 495),there is only one TFO. This TFO works in
conjunction with a Mica Flight Paramedic and essentially takes on an
"assistant paramedic" role.This TFO has to be competent in all Police
roles before being allowed to qualify for the Air Ambulance as the Air
Ambulance Helicopter can be used on Police Tasks if the Police Helicopter is
otherwise unavailable. This TFO undergoes an extensive training program with
Air Ambulance Victoria and is expected to be proficient in a range of life
saving medical equipment.
How does the rostering work at the Police Air Wing?
The rostering varies depending on
which aircraft you are operating. The Victoria Police Air Wing shares
services a vehicle with Air Ambulance and will also have a Tactical Flight
Officer on board.
The Police aircraft is operated
everyday of the week, the roster is a 10 hour roster. The shifts of the police
aircraft can be altered if the Police Air Wing is required on an emergency or
What is the difference between a
Tactical Flight Officer and a Pilot?
Most of the Pilots have come from
external organisations or the military, they attend the academy (for a shorter
time than the usual recruits) and are sworn officers, they have all the powers
etc. that a typical "sworn" member has. There are a few of the
"older" Pilots that were the traditional sworn members prior to
becoming helicopter pilots.
Did you require any specific
qualifications for the role?
Whilst no specific qualifications
are necessary to apply for the TFO role, most members at the Air Wing have a
passion for aviation, and an obvious passion for policing. Some members come
with a medical background that assists when working on the Air Ambulance. We
have a vast array of experience at the unit, with members coming from numerous
departments within the organisation, ranging from Criminal Investigation Units,
Critical Incident Response Team, Special Operations Group, Technical
Surveillance Unit, Highway Patrol, General Duties, the list goes on. This
diversity adds to the ability of the Air Wing to respond and successfully
manage a wide range of policing tasks.
What are the physical
requirements/physical testing needed to be a member of the Police Air Wing?
There is a high level of physical
fitness required of members of the Victoria Police Air Wing as you are often
placed in situations where you may need to winch members from dangerous
situations. There are also a number of tests that need to be completed in
the selection process which test both general fitness along with water
competencies and include water winching, open water swimming and rafting.