FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Sergeant Christine Ponticelli made Broward Sheriff’s Office history this year when she was promoted to commander of the BSO Aviation Unit. She’s now not only BSO’s first female pilot, but now the first female unit commander.

“I’ve been flying for 30 years, 17 with BSO,” explained Ponticelli who assumed the position in March.

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BSO’s Aviation Unit is often referred to by insiders as “The Papa Unit.” Ponticello is affectionately considered the “mama” of the papa unit.

BSO’s Air Rescue program not only serves as extra eyes in the sky to catch criminals, the unit also flies trauma patients to Broward hospitals.

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“When there is a serious trauma that the rescue truck can’t get to the hospital in a certain time period, they will call us to expedite getting the patients there,” explained Ponticelli.

Ponticelli says two patients can be transported at the same time in the back of a helicopter. She said her focus during an air rescue is getting the helicopter to the hospital. Flight medics handle the patient.

“You don’t really want to get involved with what’s going on back there. Because you need to keep your focus,” said Sgt. Ponticelli.

She said one of the most rewarding moments in her job is when she encounters patients she has previously flown to the hospital.

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“”They say ‘Oh, you flew me a couple of years back and I’m doing great’,” said Ponticelli. “It’s always very rewarding to hear that.”