NJ doctor survives helicopter crash, tends to injured passengers

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A New Jersey-based doctor has been hailed as a hero for surviving a helicopter crash and then tending to the injured passengers.

Neurologist Dr. Konstantin Balashov was in Russia visiting the Kamchatka Peninsula for a two-week vacation of fishing and hiking.

“Kamchatka is quite a unique place - it's famous for volcanoes. For fishing. For wild nature - and, so this is what I tried to do,” Balashov says.

The RWJ University Hospital doctor was the only physician on board a helicopter when it crash-landed during a tour.

“It’s still not clear what happened, but the helicopter tilted and the tail of the helicopter touched the ground first,” he says.

The emergency crash-landing happened as the tour was arriving at the third and final stop of the day by a fishing river. Three of the 23 passengers were badly injured. Balashov says that his instincts kicked in and he started to tend to the wounded. He says that one woman with a head injury was his biggest concern.

“She started to complain about neck pain, so this was kind of - was worrisome,” he says.

Balashov says that he stabilized the woman and helped others with what turned out to be a leg fracture and a deep skin and muscle laceration.

Once the medical helicopter took off with the injured and everyone else was waiting for their ride back to a city, Balashov says that he finally got to do what he came for on the tour to do.

“I went to the damaged helicopter and in the back, I was able to find about 10 fishing rods. Every one was broken but one, which I went to the river with,” he says.

Balashov says that he fished in one spot for about 30 minutes but did not catch anything.

“And then on another bank of the river, I saw a big bear coming to fish - that's what you see in Kamchatka,” he says.

The doctor says that he decided to leave the area after seeing the bear. He says that he did eventually catch some fish.

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