Helicopters have not been able to land at St. Mary’s Hospital since June, and the problem will continue into early 2014.
The helipad was deemed unusable this past spring due to some changes in Trans-port Canada regulations.
“Basically what happened was that Transport Canada made some changes to their compliance criteria. I’m not too sure when, but we have a feeling it was when there was that crash in the Okanagan. There was a plane that fell out of the sky and hit a pedestrian,” said Viola Kaminski, public affairs officer for Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH).
“Now they require for single engine airplanes a broader flight path and there’s the pedestrian safety issues. So with the St. Mary’s helipad they identified traffic and pedestrian control issues.”
In order to make the pad useable, some trees will have to be topped and traffic control gates will have to be installed at an estimated cost of $175,000, she said.
Kaminski said VCH will foot the bill and they expect the work to be completed by the end of March.
In the meantime patients who need to be airlifted to Vancouver for treatment are being driven by ambulance to the Wilson Creek airport eight km away where helicopters can safely land.
Kaminski noted that since April there have been 102 patients needing helicopter transport on the Sunshine Coast.