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Ontario Air Ambulance Service Returns Helicopters Grounded after Fatal Crash to Work

TORONTO - Ontario's air ambulance service is returning its grounded helicopters to work following a fatal crash of one of its choppers last week.

JEMS: Video: Four Dead in Ontario Medical Helicopter Crash

Ornge took its five remaining Sikorsky S76 helicopters out of service Friday as a precaution, just hours after the same kind of chopper crashed in the northern community of Moosonee, killing all four staff on board.

The helicopter had just left its base at the Moosonee airport to pick up a patient in the remote Attawapiskat First Nation when it crashed just after midnight.

Ornge says in a statement that while the crash remains under investigation, preliminary information from the Transportation Safety Board did not raise concerns regarding the S76 fleet.

It says Ornge officials "are confident they are safe to return to service."

The cockpit voice recorder has been recovered and sent to the safety board's Ottawa lab for analysis. Investigators at the crash scene determined the aircraft had a "high energy impact'' crash.

The dead crew members included two pilots and two paramedics.

"We wish to express our thanks for the overwhelming outpouring of support we have received from the Ontario public as well as EMS, healthcare and aviation services across Canada and around the world," Dr. Andrew McCallum, president and CEO of Ornge said in the statement Tuesday.

"The entire organization remains steadfast in its dedication and commitment to the patients of Ontario during this difficult time."

Ornge says the S76 is flown out of bases in Thunder Bay and Kenora and that contingency plans are in the works to restore helicopter service in Moosonee.

Fixed wing aircraft are currently being used to transport patients in the James Bay region.



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