Response to a traffic accident leads to Rescue 7 damage

Published 3:41 am Sunday, October 5, 2008

As Rescue 7 responded to a multivehicle accident call Friday morning, one of the helicopter’s main rotor blades hit a tree limb, fgrounding for an undetermined amount of time.

After the main rotor blade hit the tree limb, the pilot was able to land the helicopter safely. The pilot and paramedic on board suffered no injuries, said Southeast Mississippi Air Ambulance District board of directors president Dr. John Nelson.

Rescue 7 is the emergency air lift service provided as part of a contract between AAA Ambulance service and Pearl River County.

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Damage to the main rotor blade will have to be inspected at a Birmingham, Ala. location before the helicopter can be flown again. Nelson could not give an estimated time for the inspection or necessary repairs.

Nelson said the accident, to his knowledge, was not attributed to pilot fatigue. He said the company works under strict Federal Aviation Administration guidelines.

“We would never sacrifice safety in that manner,” Nelson said.

Rescue 7 is the only helicopter that services the Pine Belt district, which includes about 10 counties including Pearl River. To provide air lift service during Rescue 7’s down time, Nelson said a call has been made to made to another provider for helicopter coverage.