Fort St. John Hospital heli-pad remains a possibility
Oct. 7, 2013, Fort St. John, B.C. - The committee reviewing the possibility of building a helipad at the new Fort St. John Hospital has determined the project is feasible, provided it meets a number of conditions. Steve Raper of Northern Health says an implementation team has been formed to start working on meeting those conditions, and making the helipad a reality.
“The report clearly
identifies some key points, some key conditions that need to be met,”
he explains. “So now we are in the process of putting a couple of
co-chairs into place, and they’ll work towards bringing people together
and working towards satisfying the conditions of the report.”
Among the conditions are that it must meet Transport Canada
regulations, as well as appropriate rezoning and a commitment that the
land around the potential location will not be developed. There also
needs to be funding in place, not only for the helipad’s construction,
but also for its ongoing operations, as well as an organization to
“Somebody has to take ownership of it, who’s going to own and operate
the particular helipad,” says Raper. “The money has to be secured. Not
only to build and construct the helipad, but to sustain it operationally
year to year.”
helicopter landing pad was included in the original design of the
hospital, which opened in June 2012, Northern Health had determined that
it was not needed and could be unsafe. The report will be
welcome news for the residents and local government representatives who
expressed concern about the amount of time it takes to transport
patients from the North Peace Airport. If a patient needs helicopter
transportation from a remote location, they are being brought to the
airport and then transported by B.C. Ambulance to the hospital, or by
plane to another facility.
The review was led by Executive Director of the Fraser Basin Council
David Marshall as a third party facilitator between Northern Health and
B.C. Ambulance. They were joined on the committee by representatives
from the City of Fort St. John, the Peace River Regional District,
Energy Services B.C. and the Fort St. John Petroleum Association.
While the implementation team is working, services at the hospital
and with B.C. Ambulance will not be interrupted. Raper says it’s too
early to speculate on a timeline.