Loading articles...

"Time is life": New helipad to aid residents in need of urgent care

Last Updated Mar 7, 2019 at 11:19 am MDT

HERO helicopters similar to this one will be able to get Wood Buffalo residents in need of urgent care to the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre thanks to the new helipad. Photo Supplied by Local HERO Foundation Twitter page.

The new helipad at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre (NLRHC) is nearing completion.

Transport Canada was in town Wednesday running tests, examining flight paths, and highlighting any remaining deficiencies.

Paul Spring, board chair of the HERO foundation, said there is a lengthy list of things Transport Canada must check before giving the go-ahead.

“Lighting, the safety around it, the security of it, [and] everything about how the helipad functions, the windsock, [even] the colour of the windsock.”

The overall benefit of a helipad is cutting time and distance to get patients to urgent care.

“Time is life. We only work with the most critical patients. Code reds, people that are having strokes, heart attacks, trauma incidents such as an industrial incident or a motor vehicle collision. We need to get them to that next level of care.”

Spring also said taking patients from the helicopter to the ambulance at the airport to the NLRHC causes more stress for the patient.


Paul Spring was on the last helicopter to use the “old helipad” back in July 2006.

He is reluctant to consider the old one a helipad at all.

“The helipad was really not a helipad.” Spring chuckled. “It was a circle painted with an ‘H’ and a windsock.”

Placed between two schools, a church, and just outside the NLRHC’s shipping and receiving dock, it posed great safety concerns.

The new helipad would be safer, more secure, and provides residents of Wood Buffalo greater access to first responders and health services.

“This allows us one move from the aircraft into the hospital, and at the minimum will cut 20 minutes off of the time getting that person into that next level of care.”

Facts and figures

  • Using the helipad is HERO’s Airbus H135-T2, which is one of the quietest and most reliable helicopters currently in service.
  • On dispatches, two pilots and two paramedics from the Fire Department would man each helicopter flight.