Memorial service provides fitting tribute to Spirit 2 flight crew

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An estimated 1,200 people were in attendance for the Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Medical Transport Memorial Service at Holy Family Catholic Church in Woodruff. More than 50 EMS, Air Medical Transport and Public Safety Agencies were also present. (Photo courtesy of Peter Vance/Ascension Wisconsin)

Spirit Strong was the heartfelt message of a Memorial Service on Friday, May 4, which honored three members of an Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Medical Transportation flight crew who lost their lives in the crash of Spirit Air 2 in the town of Hazelhurst on April 26.

Approximately 1,200 people, including Gov. Scott Walker, Air Medical Transport, EMS and Public Safety partners from approximately 50 agencies gathered together at Holy Family Catholic Church in Woodruff for a moving Memorial Service in tribute to their lost colleagues.

Thousands more watched online thanks to a Facebook Live web stream, which resulted in messages of support from throughout the world.

Air Medical Transport Helicopters from six agencies that provide services across the country took part in a flyover to conclude the service with Sprit Air 1 leading the way.

“This Memorial Service was a fitting tribute to our lost colleagues and was an important step in our recovery process,” said Ted Ryan, system director of Medical Transport Services for Ascension Wisconsin.

Killed in the crash were Air Methods pilot Rico Caruso, 32, of Hazelhurst; Ascension Wisconsin Spirit flight nurse Klint Mitchell, 30, of Watersmeet, Michigan; and Ascension Wisconsin Spirit flight paramedic Gregory Rosenthal, 43, of Mosinee.

The crew had completed a successful patient transfer to Madison and was returning to its base at Howard Young Medical Center, part of Ascension.

In the wake of the accident, Ascension Wisconsin Spirit suspended its ground and air medical transport operations. Ground service was restored on April 28 and air medical transport services resumed when Spirit Air 1, based at the Stevens Point Airport, was placed back in service May 5.

“The ability to quickly restore our medical transport services demonstrates the skill and professionalism of our transport teams and our partners in air medical transport at Air Methods,” said Ryan.

Ascension Wisconsin Spirit annually provides approximately 3,500 ground transfers, 550 air transports and 650 paramedic intercepts across the system.

“As we have worked through the many issues of returning to service, we again would like to extend our sincere thanks to our EMS and medical transportation colleagues, who helped to ensure safe transport services were available to our patients,” said Ryan. “We are grateful for the overwhelming support we have received form our communities over the past few weeks.”

The timeline of a return to service of air medical transport services from the Woodruff base has yet to be determined.

“It will follow the same due diligence as our return to service in the days following the tragedy,” said Ryan.

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