SALT LAKE CITY — A new Department of Public Safety helicopter is coming to Southern Utah and will dramatically reduce response times for emergencies in the area.
Currently, if a DPS helicopter is needed for an emergency in southern Utah, it takes at least two hours to fly into the area.
Starting July 1, a new helicopter will be stationed in St. George, which will dramatically cut down response times and likely save lives.
Not only has the Department of Public Safety and Utah Highway Patrol been pushing for this change, local law enforcement and sheriff's have as well.
UHP Major Beau Mason explained that they are in southern Utah several times a week.
"Just recently, last week, we had a helicopter respond on a mission," said Major Mason. "They located the injured party. And the person was in pretty rough shape physically. And they felt the best option was to fly him directly to the hospital, which isn't our normal practice. Typically, we'd transport him to an ambulance, and they would take them by ground. But this individual was in dire condition, and so they flew them immediately to the hospital."
The need for a separate helicopter in southern Utah will likely only increase as weather warms up and people head outside to explore many outdoor recreational sites.
Major Mason believes calls for service will increase even more with the availability of a helicopter in the Southern portion of Utah.