By Lori Cathey
An idea born in the fall of last year is now a reality.
In November, Rutherford Fire Department Assistant Chief Jon Stafford was looking for a safe location to land a helicopter to transport a child to a Memphis hospital. After the call, he knew it was time for a permanent dedicated location for air ambulance service to use to serve the Rutherford community.
Stafford, along with Gibson County Fire Chief Bryan Cathey, Gibson County Fire & Rescue Station Chief John Baker and Station No. 9 member Terry Jones, decided that Gibson County Station No. 9 would be the best location for a helipad. Stafford, Baker and Jones began seeking monetary donations and personnel to complete this project, and now it is finished and ready to provide a safe location for air ambulances.
“This is a great asset to our community and emergency services,” said Stafford.
The Town of Rutherford, Rutherford Fire Department and Gibson County Fire & Rescue Station No. 9 members held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday night, Aug. 7 for their new helicopter landing pad.
Air Evac Lifeteam 143 out of Troy was the first helicopter to land on the new helipad for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Around 6:30 p.m., Rutherford Alderperson Annie Edwards cut the ceremonial ribbon as members of the community looked on.
“This is something that has been needed for a while,” Baker said. “It will give us a safer place to land a medical helicopter. It took the effort of several individuals to make this happen, and I’m thankful for everyone who had a part in it.”
The helipad is a concrete 30’ by 30’ slab with lights that run along the outside edge to help with nighttime landing. All three air ambulance helicopter services in the area, Air Evac Lifeteam, Hospital Wing and Vanderbilt LifeFlight, will use the helipad in Rutherford.
This is the third helipad built in Gibson County in the last three years. Dyer helipad was built in 2017 and Trenton followed in 2019. Air Evac’s Kent Martin said, “I’m always glad when a helipad is completed. It’s a lot safer; pilots have to worry about lights, poles, radio towers, trees and things like that. It also cut down on the time it takes to get critical patients to a trauma hospital.”
Officials would like to thank Twin City Barns, Universal Contractors, Sunrise Vinyl, Southern Concrete, City Lumber Company, Air Evac, Rutherford Fire Department, Town of Rutherford, Rutherford Police Department, GC Fire & Rescue Station No. 9, Eddie Bell, Jackie Finch, and Pat Keith for all donations and labor to make this possible.