Emergency Helicopter for Smokies Becomes Permanent

Sevierville, Tenn. (AP) -- Months after establishing a temporary base, the University of Tennessee Medical Center has decided to station one of its three LifeStar emergency helicopters permanently near great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The helicopter started flying out of the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport last march for 12 hours each on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. That's when the volume of calls is heaviest.

The rotation was increased to 12 hours every day and now the Smokies area originates the largest amount of emergency flights.

Officials say many of the calls from the area come from wrecks and other accidents involving tourists

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