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Landis goes big with two helicopters for National Night Out

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

LANDIS — Amid the faint echo of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” all eyes turned to the purple Novant Health helicopter landing on the fields of J. Fred Corriher Jr. YMCA Tuesday evening.

Fortunately, the landing wasn’t to transport a patient in critical condition. Instead, the Landis Public Safety Department called on Novant Health and Atrium Health to arrive in style for the town’s first National Night Out as a combined agency supporting both police and fire services.

Founded in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch, National Night Out is an event centered on promoting police and community partnerships held across the nation on the first Tuesday of August. Separate events were held across the county Tuesday, with Spencer and East Spencer hosting a combined event.

With Mayor Meredith Smith kicking off Landis’ event with a singing of the national anthem, residents and families visited the soccer fields of the YMCA in China Grove Tuesday evening to enjoy free food, frozen treats and children’s bounce houses while also learning about various services provided to the town from both police and firefighters. Information provided by Landis Police officers related to online fraud protection as well as DNA and fingerprint kits for parents to use for their children. Officers also donned the town’s newest purchases — new Axon Body Camera 3 and Taser 7 devices — which were paid for with surplus sales from the previous fiscal year.

“It’s all about building community relationships and making people comfortable to approach officers,” said Landis Public Safety Director Zachary Lechette, who added that the goal Tuesday was to educate while interacting.

One of the main events was the landing of two helicopters, one from Novant Health and another from Atrium Health. The helicopter based at the Novant Health Rowan Medical Center flew in around 6:45 p.m. Base Medical Manager Amy Cherry told the Post the helicopter typically stays within a 150-mile area for transporting patients, with the helicopter traveling as far as Virginia and South Carolina if needed. When in operation, Cherry said the helicopter is staffed with at least one nurse and one paramedic to tend to patients, with an additional seat for those training or assisting the response.

Medical Transit Pilot Toby Familo said the helicopter typically cruises at around 1,000 feet because higher altitudes can increase the transport time and impact the patient with a different level of air pressure. Though not the maximum speed, helicopters typically fly at around 135 miles per hour during transport, Familo said.

China Grove resident Megan Harmon said coming together for an event like Tuesday’s was “amazing” given the experience over the last year and a half with the COVID-19 pandemic. She likes that Landis is combining its fire and police services because the much-needed partnership will further help the community, she said.

Landis resident Starla Mason said she was encouraged by local law enforcement to attend the National Night Out event, which she said provided “a great awareness” for how the department assists residents and serves the town.

Lechette commended WoodmenLife for providing a $500 donation for the purchase of the tasers and body cameras, along with Pinnacle Corrugated, LLC,’s donation to provide the bounce houses.

Lechette also encouraged residents who may be experiencing issues with reaching the Police Department for non-emergencies to call the county’s non-emergency dispatch line at 704-216-8500.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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