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July 6, 2013

Helicopter not available for Salem crash victims

Helicopter wasn't available for Salem motorcycle crash victims

SALEM, N.H. — When two people received head injuries in a motorcycle accident Thursday, Salem firefighters didn’t hesitate to request a medical helicopter to fly them to the hospital.

The only problem was a helicopter wasn’t available in either New Hampshire or Massachusetts because of several other calls for assistance on what was a busy Fourth of July holiday for rescue personnel.

So instead of a helicopter picking up Timothy Holland, 38, of Windham and his 12-year-old passenger, two Salem ambulances were sent to the Millville Street crash scene.

While the young boy was taken to Lawrence General Hospital in one ambulance, a disoriented Holland was transported in the other. The hospital’s special paramedic unit then met the second ambulance on Route 28, fire Capt. Timothy Kenney said.

The special unit — two paramedics in a sport utility vehicle — then sped along the busy roadway to the hospital.

It was the first time in years a medical helicopter wasn’t available to transport a patient because of other calls for assistance, Salem Assistant fire Chief Paul Parisi. If a helicopter isn’t available, it’s usually because inclement conditions would make flying dangerous, he said.

“It doesn’t happen very often,” Parisi said. “They are a great resource to have. It’s not often there is a case we can’t handle.”

Parisi said it was only the third time in 20 years when a helicopter wasn’t available for a reason other than poor flying conditions.

When Salem rescue personnel responded to the crash about 3:45 p.m., the injured pair were lying on the lawn at 174 Millville St., Kenney said. The northbound Honda motorcycle failed to negotiate a curve in the road, he said.

Speed is not believed to be a factor and it’s unknown if drug or alcohol contributed to the crash, police Sgt. Thomas Kench said. The crash is still under investigation, he said.

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