IOWA CITY, Iowa Members of the University of Iowa's AirCare program were shocked when they learned a medical helicopter went down near Mason City Wednesday night, killing all three people on board.
"You don't know whether to cry or throw-up," said Rick Ogren, a flight nurse who heard the news on his drive to work Thursday morning. "Doing the job you know the risks, but this just grabs you."
The downed helicopter was based out of Mercy Medical Center North in Mason City. Members of the crew that serve the hospital often make flights to University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics while transporting patients for specialty care.
"They're our colleagues and our friends," said Diane Lamb, AirCare nurse manager. "We work with that program in Mason City."
While the programs are not affiliated, Lamb says she sees the victims as members of a "family."
Crashes involving medical helicopters are extremely rare. The AirCare program in Iowa City has never had a crash while transporting patients more than 3 million miles since 1979.