August 23rd, 2017

Forget helipad; just use the airport


By Letter to the Editor on June 16, 2017.

Re: “Hospital helipad continues to sit idle,” May 30

Apparently, an “alternative landing area” (ALA) is necessary for HALO to access the Medicine Hat Regional hospital. In spite of a thorough search of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CAR) Part III – Aerodromes, Airports and Heliports Standard 325 for a reference to “alternative landing area” or any variation thereof, nothing was found. Whatever else the ALA is, it will be a heliport subject to the same regulations as any other heliport including the existence of suitable emergency landing areas within 625 metres of the ALA as defined by the CARs.

This ALA must overcome numerous difficulties: The existence of a power line on the west side of Sixth Avenue across from River Heights School; the proximity of parked vehicles that will be affected by rotor wash; several trees and light standards which will interfere with operations; the size of the area set aside for the ALA does not appear to be big enough (the fenced area protecting the heliport at the Taber hospital is 40 metres by 40 metres); the route over which a stretcher must be pushed to gain entrance to the hospital, which must avoid some stairs, will be a challenge in winter conditions; the entrance doors may not easily accommodate a stretcher (they appear to be not so designed); the distance from the airport to the hospital by ambulance is 3.5 km which is 3.5 minutes at 60 km/h; it takes four minutes to walk from the ALA to the emergency room along the route a stretcher must take; take off to the south and west (the directions from which the wind most frequently blows) must be made into rising ground; take off to the south and west must be made over parked cars; there are no rejected takeoff areas to the south and west.

This ALA will cost a lot of money and cause a lot of fuss, all for single engine helicopters which access the hospital only three or four times a year. They are better off landing at the airport as they have always done in the past.

Fred Lewis

Medicine Hat


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