Select Page


Learn More

The Helicopter Rescue and Response Association (HRRA) was founded in Austin Texas on August 6th, 2010 as a result of the annual ad hoc Helicopter Rescue Summit held in conjunction with Helicopter Association International’s HELI-EXPO. For those of us involved in helicopter rescue operations and with everyone planning to attend the largest helicopter tradeshow in the US, the timing and schedule seemed perfect!

The formation of this association is the result of a common desire shared by those actively involved with helicopter rescue operations towards improving the safety and effectiveness of helicopter rescue and response. The first Helicopter Rescue Summit occurred at HAI in 2005 at Dallas, Texas where a dozen or so operators gathered around a table and discussed helicopter rescue operations. Representatives from the military, law enforcement, fire service, and contract operators shared and quizzed each other regarding information on everything from communications, aircraft configuration, techniques and equipment used. 

This annual summit has grown over the years in both attendance and in the number and diversity of agencies represented; including a fair share of international operators! The event was also successful due to the gracious financial support from supporting organizations and companies as well as from local agencies allowing us the use of their facilities for a day.

The attendance and scope has increased every year.  The interest and momentum following the 2010 Summit in Houston, Texas indicated that we, as a group and as a community have to take the next step in order to meet future objectives. The Association was that next step. A Board of Directors and Association bylaws were formed allowing  us to proceed with the lawful creation of the organization. The incorporation was completed and the filing as a 501 (c) 3 non profit organization occurred in  the fall of 2010 and are awaiting action by the Internal Revenue Service.

It is the goal of the Association to promote safety and efficiency through information sharing, standardization (where possible) and aircraft/product improvement. We hope the Association will be successful in bringing organizations performing helicopter rescue activities together (regardless of their respective disciplines Fire, EMS, SAR or Law Enforcement) so that lessons can be learned, information shared, equipment/procedures/standards be developed with a unified voice.

Organizational Sponsors

Board Members

Captain Nick Granelli

Captain Nick Granelli


Nick is currently a Lieutenant with the Texas Department of Public Safety. He has been with the TXDPS (State Police) for 16 years and in the Aircraft Division since 2005.  In his capacity as a Lieutenant Pilot for DPS, he is assigned to training where he is currently responsible for pilot proficiency training, checkrides, transition training, and tactical training, including hoist operations.  Nick also conducts missions both in a training role, and a mission pilot role.  He helped form the hoist program with the implantation of their first hoist in 2008. Since then Nick has trained crews across the state in our EC145 and Astar B3 hoisting platforms, and he also trains and certifies crews in their short haul rescue program.

Shortly after the HRRA was formed, Granelli recommended a safety committee be formed to address issues and share information related to safety.  The committee should continue to grow with new membership.  The safety committee, and HRRA in general should foster growth and safety in our Association and promote networking to help the industry do their jobs safer and better.

Hank Reimer

Hank Reimer

Vice President

Hank is assigned to the Air Operations Section of the Los Angeles County Fire Department as a Firefighter/Paramedic/Crew Chief.  He has been involved in Helicopter technical rescue for the past 15 years with over 30 years in public service. L.A. County Fire Air Operations facilitates in house air crew initial and recurrent training and occasionally supplies training for local, state and federal agencies.  Hank has been a part of the training cadre for the past 14 years and has been a guest speaker regarding helicopter technical rescue operations all over the US and Canada. Hank is attached to a Federal Incident Management Team as a Air Operations Branch Director.  He teaches numerous Interagency and State Aviation classes throughout Southern California.
Brett Dixon

Brett Dixon


Since 2009, Brett Dixon has been the Program Manager and a Rescue Swimmer for the Texas Task Force 1 HSART (Helicopter Search & Rescue Technician) Program.  The HSART Program is a joint partnership between Texas Task Force 1 and Texas Army National Guard, which utilizes task force rescue personnel with swiftwater rescue experience on hoist equipped UH-60 and LUH-72 aircraft.  The program serves the citizens of the state of Texas and surrounding states as requested through the Interstate Emergency Response Support Plan or EMAC.

He has worked full-time for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) for fourteen years, and serves as the aviation SAR coordinator at the Texas Air Operations Center during multi-agency responses to flooding and natural disasters within the state of Texas.  He has been the FEMA US&R Equipment Cache Manager for Texas Task Force 1 since 2008.  He oversees the purchasing, management, and accountability of all state and federal task force equipment, boats, and vehicles.  He is also a Heavy Rigging & Equipment Specialist with the Task Force’s Red Team.

He served in the United States Marine Corps as an infantryman and US Embassy Guard in the 1990s.  He is an NREMT-B and has deployed with Texas Task Force 1 in response to disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Alex, the 2011 Joplin tornado, 2014 Moore tornado and West fertilizer plant explosion.

Casey Ping

Casey Ping


Casey is currently the Program Director for Travis County STAR Flight. A government sponsored, public safety helicopter program performing EMS, SAR, Law Enforcement and Fire Suppression activities in Central Texas.

Casey has been actively involved in public safety for 29 years. 25 years as a paramedic and 20 years assigned to aviation units as flight paramedic, chief flight paramedic and program director. During those 20 years has worked as helicopter rescue specialist, crew chief and hoist operator.

Casey was a founding member of Texas Engineering Extension Service Texas Task Force 1 Swiftwater and Helicopter Rescue Committee that identified and developed team typing models and resources for disaster response after the 1998 Rio Grand Flood. This committee, along with members of the Texas Army National Guard, was responsible for the first ever partnering of National Guard air assets with civilian rescuers during state disasters. This program was developed in 2001 after Tropical Storm Allison impacted the Texas coast. This model is now being used in multiple other states.  He has is currently a Water and Helicopter Rescue Manager and has been deployed during significant floods/disaster events in Texas and Louisiana, including multiple Tropical Storms and Hurricane's including Katrina, Rita and Dean.

Casey also serves as an original member of the DHS/FEMA Search and Rescue Credentialing Committee where he is the co-chair of the Flood/Swift Water, Helicopter and Boat Operations Sub-Committee.

Perry Esquer

Perry Esquer

Member At Large

Perry began working as a paramedic when he was 19 years old in the City of San Diego and became one of the youngest members to work as a rescue paramedic on San Diego's elite Special Trauma and Rescue Team (STAR Team). This is where his exposure to tactical, helicopter and water-based rescue operations began.

Perry trained and responded on numerous long-distance offshore SAR missions with USCG Sector San Diego to provide ALS care. He also supported San Diego Police Department SWAT as a tactical medic and he completed the SDPD SWAT academy.

Perry is trained in helicopter fast-rope and rappel insertions to hostile target areas, served 16 years as ocean lifeguard in San Diego County, attended the San Diego Fire Department fire academy. He was employed as Helicopter Rescue Medic for 3 years before promoting to Chief of SDFD Air Operations where he was responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations, personnel, a $2 million dollar annual budget, 2 rescue aircraft and developed training and operational SOPs.

Perry served as chairperson for California's FIRESCOPE Aviation Working Group. The Group was tasked with bridging operational gaps within Federal, State and local agencies in order to improve on service delivery and inter-agency cooperation.

Become A Member