December 5, 2020

Air Evac Lifeteam 77 reconnects with accident victim

(L-R) Steve Wirth, Paul Kopriva, Chris Cumbie, Tom Salls, Dedria Brown (seated), Blake Helms, Rachael Dillin, Jim Bradfield, Scott Blue, Nikki Culpepper, Robert Nelms, Danny Davis, Austin Thompson, Darlene Shomake

Dedria Brown, the Heard County 911 operator who suffered an accidental gunshot wound while rabbit hunting last month, reunited Thursday with the public safety personnel who participated in her rescue.

The Air Evac 77 Lifeteam from Troup County landed at the Heard County Emergency service headquarters via chopper to greet Brown who enjoyed her first day out and about since the mishap.

Brown was hunting on February 17 when she tried to finish off a rabbit she had just fired on. As she struck the rabbit with the butt of her 20 gauge shotgun, the gun accidentally fired sending a bullet through her abdomen causing serious damage to her intestines.

The Air Evac 77 team transported her by chopper to Atlanta Medical Center where she spent several days and underwent major surgery.

The three-person crew from that day Paul Kopriva (pilot), Rachael Dillin (flight nurse), and Blake Helms (flight medic) were all on hand Thursday to meet with Dedria face to face for the first time since dropping her at AMC in February.

“Most of the time we never get to see our patients again so we were very excited at the opportunity to reconnect with Dedria today.”~Rachael Dillin.

Dedria is still rehabilitating but improving everyday and hopes to be back at work soon. For the time-being, however, doctor’s orders are that she not lift anything heavier than a phone book.

When asked if she would be going rabbit hunting again in the future Brown quickly responded that of course she would.

She stated that one of her fellow hunters had already made her a companion billy club inscribed with the words “Dee Dee’s rabbit-buster” so that she would have no chance at experiencing a repeat of the traumatic experience again.

“I have been just overwhelmed at all the support, well-wishes, and prayers I have received from the community. I am so thankful to the Air Evac team and everyone else that helped to save my life that day. It is truly a blessing to live in a small town where so many people are so genuinely concerned about you.”~Dedria Brown

Other public safety workers who aided in her rescue were also in attendance Thursday including Steve Wirth, Chris Cumbie, Tom Salls, Jim Bradfield, Nikki Culpepper, Danny Davis, Austin Thompson, Robert Nelms, Scott Blue,  and Darlene Shoemake.

Air Evac teams are especially important in rural areas such as Heard County where level one trauma centers are not in close proximity.

The Air Evac 77 team, based in Troup County, serves the West Georgia and East Alabama areas within a 70-mile radius and can be on site in most Heard County areas within 8-10 minutes depending on location and wind speeds at the time of the flight.

“We strive to save lives and positively impact outcomes during life-threatening or limb-threatening medical emergencies by providing rapid access to definitive emergency health care for people in rural America.”~Mission statement Air Evac 77

To learn more about the Air Evac Lifeteam including information on how you can become a member visit To see more photos from this event visit our


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