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A safe flight in the Bakken: Oil companies learn about medical helicopter service

Press Photo by Katherine Lymn Spirit Lifeline crew member Robert Fratti shows oil industry employees the ins and outs of his company’s helicopter Wednesday near South Heart.

SOUTH HEART — Oil companies got a closeup look Wednesday at the aircraft getting a lot of business lately because of their industry.

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The Spirit Lifeline crew presented its helicopter at a safety event Wednesday near South Heart. Employees of RockPile Energy Services, Whiting Petroleum, Petro-Hunt and Fidelity Exploration and Production were present to learn about how the crew operates.

Representatives of the South Heart Fire Department attended, too.

The helicopter can hit 150 mph, crew member Robert Fratti said, and the version at the event, outfitted with all the necessary gear, is worth about $2.8 million.

Fratti said the crew gets calls from western North Dakota, including several near Bowman and Hettinger. It can fly for two-and-a-half hours, allowing it to bring someone from a rig accident in Baker, Mont., to a hospital in Billings, Mont.

After showing off their ride, crew members showed what to do if they ever show up at a worksite, like which way to shine headlights at night, Shirley Buckman said. Buckman and her husband own Team Well Service, a workover rig company incorporated into RockPile last fall.