A month after crash, Mercy is ready to resume air servicePublished 9:15am Wednesday, February 6, 2013
By John Skipper
Mason City Globe Gazette
MASON CITY — Mercy Air Med will tentatively resume patient transportation on Feb. 12, the hospital announced Tuesday.
“We are very blessed to have a dedicated flight crew. They are true professionals and are eager to once again be in the air serving the residents of northern Iowa and southern Minnesota,” said Dan Varnum, president and chief executive officer of Mercy Medical Center of North Iowa.
The Mercy Air Med crew will continue to utilize the helicopter that was provided on a temporary basis by Med-Trans, Mercy’s partner in providing medical air transportation, until the new permanent helicopter arrives in early March.
Mercy received the temporary helicopter on Jan. 22 to provide training for the Mercy Air Med crew and to prepare medical equipment and supplies for medical transports. Weather permitting, they will begin transporting patients on Feb. 12.
“We are amazed by the resiliency of the members of Mercy Air Med. Their passion, drive and determination to continue this very important work is applauded,” Varnum said.
Mercy Air Med has been out of service since a Jan. 2 crash that killed flight nurse Shelly Lair-Langenbau, 44, of Hanlontown; paramedic Russell Piehl, 48, of Forest City; and pilot Gene Grell, 53, a native of San Antonio, Texas.
Early report says
ice was factor
Icing may have caused the crash of a Mercy Medical Center of North Iowa helicopter on Jan. 2, a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board said in late January.
The preliminary report includes comments from a private pilot at the Mason City Municipal Airport and a witness who heard the helicopter moments before it crashed. Both witnesses describe the weather conditions at the time of the accident.
The pilot saw the helicopter as he left the airport and noticed a glaze of ice on his car and icy roads.
The pilot commented he had flown into Mason City at 6:30 p.m. and encountered some light ice.