The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

August 1, 2007

Locals stand by to assist in bridge disaster

ISJ helicopter makes trip, isn't used

MANKATO — A short time after word spread that disaster had struck in Minneapolis with the collapse of a freeway bridge, a Mankato medical helicopter was flying north.

Mayo Clinic Medical Transport called Mankato’s dispatch center Wednesday and asked an operator there to launch the Mayo One helicopter and crew from the regional airport, said Kevin Burns, Immanuel St. Joseph’s Mayo Health System chief communications officer. The crew landed at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie and stayed there for more than an hour.

Just before 8 p.m. the crew was told they could return to Mankato, Burns said. More medical helicopters weren’t needed, in part, because Hennepin County Medical Center is close to where the I-35 bridge fell.

Mayo’s transport system also includes Gold Cross Ambulance, which also was ready if needed to help get victims to a hospital, Burns said. The services of Mayo Health System doctors and support staff also were offered, but weren’t needed as of Wednesday night.

“We’ve been as proactive as possible, which is pretty commonplace when something as unfortunate as this happens,” Burns said. “It really comes down to what’s best to take care of patients.”

An assessment of the American Red Cross blood supply was taking place Wednesday night, said Bob Meyer, South Central Minnesota Red Cross chief executive officer. Although a call for donors was going out in the Twin Cities Wednesday night, there were no special blood donor drives being set up in the Mankato area for today.

Red Cross workers in the Mankato area were ready to provide backup for workers who will have logged hours at the disaster scene by this morning. Mankato has one of the state’s larger Red Cross units, so the call could come today or tomorrow, Meyer said.

“If they start running thin, they’ll start calling nearby to get relief,” he said. “We’re ready if necessary.”

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