Hospital helipad taken out of service
MEMORIAL Hospital has been with out the use of its helipad for nine
months, and those involved say emergency services have not been affected
The helipad was shut down Dec. 1 of last year
because of a required $150,000 in upgrades, said the director of
business for the Northern Health Authority, Finlay Sinclair.
said the decision was made in cooperation with the hospital, and that
fixing the helipad was not something the authority wanted to spend
health care dollars on, especially when a local airport is so near by.
“We made the decision to move those services to the airport and not have to maintain and upgrade the helipad,” Sinclair said.
said the helipad needed improvements with the grade around it, the slop
and in terms of grading, slope and the actual finish of the pad.
were also issues with trees blocking visibility, snow removal and
lighting. Sinclair said they also took into account the comfort of
pilots and the safety of paramedics.
“When there is a
viable option close to the hospital then we move to that option –
especially when it’s an airport,” Sinclair continued.
said in the north airports are almost always the preferred option for
health care facilities, and this includes the hospital in Prince George.
Geoff Apppleton is the Northern Health Authority’s regional medical
director, and said shutting down the helipad has not affected patient
“The time saved having a chopper landing at the hospital rather than the airport is very small indeed,” Appleton said.
He said at the most you would save 10 to 15 minutes and rare is the situation where that time period is critical.
Appleton said it is different for major cities where you are looking at a long travel times by road.
“In our part of the world, it is not quite the same,” he said.
Appleton also points out that having a helipad so close to the hospital can represent a danger in regards to crashes and fires.
“I think there is a significant safety factor there as well,” he said.
BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) said that most patients in the north are
transported via aircraft, and so were being flown into the airport here
“Really in the north we don’t move a lot of
patients by helicopter,” Sinclair said, although he adds the one
exception to this is Prince Rupert, where some remote locations need to
use a helicopter to reach the city.
In 2010 and 2011 the BCAS says only seven percent of air-transported patients in this area were moved by helicopter.
Carwithen from the BCAS said the remaining 93 per cent were transported
by airplane, met with a ground ambulance and then taken to Mills