RMH REACT Program to Resume

By: Shannon Smith Email
By: Shannon Smith Email

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- REACT helicopter crews are gearing up to fly again. You may recall, Rockford Health Systems grounded all medical flights for more than a month, after pilot Andy Olesen and flight nurses Jim Dillow and Karen Hollis were killed in a helicopter crash in Lee County. REACT crews are training with a new temporary helicopter. A hospital representative says they plan to get back in the air within the next few weeks. Pilots and flight nurses have to be trained because this is a new model, which is fully equipped with new safety features, including night vision, autopilot and terrain avoidance. Along with flight training, several nurses are back to working with critical care ground transports in the area. Dan Parod is Senior Vice President of Rockford Health Systems and he says REACT crewmembers have been an inspiration.

"Just the way they've responded to the loss of three co-workers. But they've just been very strong, very committed, very anxious to return to service. You know, they're in the business of helping people, caring for the sickest of our sick patients and they're anxious to get back to work,” said Parod.

Parod says REACT started 'confidence flights' this month, to allow crew members to get comfortable with the new equipment and the model.

REACT plans to resume regular service with the temporary helicopter next month. A permanent replacement aircraft is expected to arrive by March.

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford Memorial Hospital's REACT helicopter program is up and running again.

Pilots and mechanics are now training on a temporary aircraft that's housed at the hangar at RMH.

The crew is getting equipment and training to resume regular transport flights, which is expected to begin within the next month. They're expected to get their new, permanent aircraft in one to two months. This comes after three people died in a REACT helicopter crash last month.

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