"Unnecessary" Medevac Helicopter Helps Out Opponent

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A long-simmering dispute over the location of a New Jersey medevac unit took an ironic twist when the unit's helicopter was used to airlift a severely injured employee of the unit's most vocal opponent. Thomas E. Mulrooney suffered severe burns on his face and upper body after being doused in molten plastic at Polycel Structural Foam in Branchburg, N.J. Polycel CEO and local township committeeman Kurt Joerger has been trying to get the medevac unit out of nearby Somerset Airport since it was moved there from Newark's University Hospital on Feb. 4. Joerger, who owns a 175-acre horse farm near the airport, called the move an "unlawful unwarranted and unnecessary intrusion into the rural region that surrounds the airport." Medevac officials hinted that intrusion may have saved Mulrooney's life. The chopper was moved to Somerset to reduce response times in that area of New Jersey. Medevac spokesman Terry Hoben said it took only a minute for the helicopter to respond to the April 9 emergency compared to the 20 minutes it would have taken from Newark. Hoben said speed is critical in burn injuries because of the danger of the victim's airway closing. He told the Courier News the incident was vivid proof of the helicopter's importance to the area and he hopes opponents take note. "We've said in the past that they don't quite understand until they have a need," he said. "I wonder if what we've talked about in the past has become a reality."