There are few adjectives one could describe the great, new helipad at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre (NLRHC).
Paul Spring, chairman for the Local Hero foundation, says Transportation Canada gave them the go-ahead at the end of March.
There were still tests for landing procedures left to complete.
Spring and the crew were understandably anxious.
“Knowing that the pad was so close to completion, we did a large volume of calls in both February and March. We followed the regulations to the letter, so we just had to wait until it was finally approved.”
A week after its approval, Hero made their first call.
Fire Chief Jody Butz said it was a historic day for the region.
“Just from a logical perspective, it made sense: Decreasing the amount of transport time and, ultimately, improving patient care and saving lives, in some instances.”
Butz said the first landing saved around 20-25 minutes off the travel time thanks to the helipad.
“Everything went well, the patient was transported safely and timely.”
Spring says flights from north of the NLRHC could save more time since they’re not flying past the health centre to the airport.
With that said, he was quick to mention the helipad’s unseen benefits for emergency services.
Each transfer has a set of risks for the patient as well as the caregiver.
“Every time you move a patient from one mode of transportation to another mode of transportation, each time there is an opportunity for a caregiver to slip or have the wrong grip.”
Spring also mentioned transfer could jeopardize vital equipment.
Butz said the helipad is monumental for patient care in Wood Buffalo.