REACT Back in the Air

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford Health System's REACT helicopter program is back up and running, after three crew members were killed in a crash almost two months ago.

"We're a big family, and they're never going to be too far out of our minds. But, we have a job to do,” said REACT Medical Director, Robert Escarza.

REACT crew members are now back in the air, saving lives. They've been grounded since their three co-workers were killed in December. Dr. Robert Escarza oversees the REACT division and says they spent a lot of time getting mentally prepared.

"We're not casual about safety. We never were casual about safety. But of course we're going to be a little bit more serious about it now that we've all been through this experience,” Escarza said.

Since the helicopter crash, Rockford Health Systems has offered post-traumatic counseling. One local grief counselor says it's important treatment continues.

"For the people that will be going up in the helicopter for the first time since the accident, would be a very good idea to, I guess we can call it, debrief with them when they come back. To be able to have them talk about what they felt, what they experienced, what their thoughts were,” said Delinda Grindle.

Dr. Escarza says the team is making an extra effort to look out for one another's well-being, during this difficult time.

The hospital is currently using a temporary helicopter. They will begin using a permanent replacement sometime next month.

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