Paramedics: Mutual aid crucial for Houston County plane crash - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Paramedics: Mutual aid crucial for Houston County plane crash


CALEDONIA, Minnesota (WXOW) – Federal authorities continue to investigate what caused a twin-engine plane crash in Houston County Friday.

About a dozen units responded to the crash.

When dealing with a mass trauma, mutual aid is crucial, said Caledonia Ambulance Director Mike Tornstrom.

Tornstrom has worked as a paramedic for more than 20 years, and in that time, has only seen a plane crash twice, maybe three times.

"We used to dealing with car accidents. That's one of the things that we deal with on a common basis. So we know exactly what our fellow fire department personnel are going to do," Tornstrom said. "In the situation of an airplane crash, we have no idea."

But with any trauma, Tornstrom and his fellow paramedics rely heavily on other responding units, like firefighters, who help extricate patients.

Friday's plane crash near Caledonia had four. And since Caledonia only has two ambulances, they had to rely on Tri-State and Spring Grove to back them up. Generally one ambulance is assigned to one patient.

"The first unit on scene is instant command. Once you arrive on scene as an additional unit, you take orders from them," Tornstrom said.

"Obviously a plane crash this magnitude, they would just launch us," said Terry Dorshorst, flight nurse for MedLink AIR.

If MedLink AIR is called, they often land while paramedics are triaging, Dorshorst said. "If we don't take anyone, we don't take anyone. At least we're up, we're in the air, and we're there if they need us."

According to Dorshorst, transporting a patient via helicopter isn't always the quickest option. But when there's a lot of traffic, or the accident is in a rural area, MedLink often lends a hand.

"To us it's a trauma. If someone needs expedient help, then we get here as fast as we can," Dorshorst said, adding that extra speed can help save a life.

The National Transportation Safety Board said at the earliest, they expect a preliminary report on the crash to be out by the end of the week.

The Houston County Sheriff's Office and NTSB are looking to talk to anyone who has information regarding the crash, or witnessed the crash.

The Sheriff's Office can be reached at (507) 725-3379. NTSB can be contacted 24/7 at (202) 314-6297.

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