Several teams helping manage helicopter crash incident

(UPDATED at 9 a.m. MDT, April 2, 2015)

Below is information released by the incident management team that is helping to manage the helicopter crash incident in Mississippi.


On Monday, March 30, 2015, a helicopter assisting with a controlled burn on the De Soto National Forest crashed killing two firefighters and injuring a third. Killed were Brandon Ricks, 40, of Oklahoma, a pilot for T&M Aviation of Abbeville, Louisiana and Steve Cobb, 55, of Wiggins, Mississippi, an engineering technician for De Soto National Forest. Injured was Brendan Mullen, 42, a supervisory forestry technician from Helena National Forest in Montana.

Our hearts go out to the families and friends of Brandon Ricks and Steve Cobb and we wish a rapid recovery for Brendan Mullen. Cards or letters of support to the Cobb family can be sent to De Soto Ranger District at 654 West Frontage Road. Wiggins, MS 39577. We will post information on how to send condolences to the Ricks family when we receive it.

Brendan Mullen is recovering with burns on approximately 15 percent of his body. He is stable and will require skin grafts. Cards and letters of support for him can be sent to Helena National Forest, ATTN: Helena Aviation Center, 2880 Skyway Drive, Helena, MT 59602. You can also follow his progress and wish him well at CaringBridge.

The Regional Forester arrived to meet with Desoto District employees. Critical Response Protocol Teams arrived to assist employees. ASC Benefits Counselors have been assigned to assist affected employees/families. The helicopter fuselage has been removed from the site. The Southern Area (Red) Type 1 Incident Management Team is providing facilitation/coordination and information flow between the Critical Stress Protocol Teams and Forest employees.

The Team will continue to provide facilitation, coordination, and information flow between the National Forests in Mississippi and the Desoto Ranger District with the National Transportation Safety Board, Critical Response Protocol Teams, Albuquerque Service Center and local law enforcement, fire department and affected businesses. The Red Team will initiate planning for memorial service tentatively scheduled for Friday and Saturday, April 3 and 4.


(Originally published at 11:48 a.m. MDT, April 1, 2015)

In addition to the ongoing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, Stephanie Johnson, a spokesperson for the U. S. Forest Service, said the agency has dispatched three teams to manage the helicopter crash incident in southern Mississippi on the Desoto National Forest.

Two were killed in the crash, pilot Brandon Wicks of T & M Aviation, and Stephen W. Cobb of the USFS. Supervisory Forestry Technician Brendan Mullen of the USFS was injured and transported to a hospital.

A short version of Mike Dueitt’s Type 1 Incident Management Team was ordered on March 30. Typically on an incident like this an IMT will handle operational details, as well as work with the families of the victims to plan the final arrangements including in some cases a memorial service that might be attended by a large number of people.

A Critical Response Protocol team will be reviewing the accident to determine if there are any lessons to be learned.

And finally, a Critical Incident Stress team will assist employees and others in recovering emotionally from the tragedy.

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