Don Nutini stands on the helipad that he was so instrumental in constructing just outside the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital last week.

Don Nutini stands on the helipad that he was so instrumental in constructing just outside the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital last week.

Helipad providing life-saving service

After a year in operation, pad serves as model for other regions

  • Oct. 11, 2011 2:00 p.m.

After a year of use, the helipad that was built on community charity is saving lives and expanding Trail’s medical capabilities.

The heliport at the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) has been operational for just over a year and has already been used 14 times for patient transportation.

The KBRH is the largest hospital in the area and the helipad expands its influence across the region.

“Not only has it helped the KBRH and the citizens of Trail but it has also helped in supporting the initiative within Interior Health,” said Ingrid Hampf, administrator of KBRH.

“Within Interior Health we’re certainly looking at modeling what happened here in Trail. I think our heliport is going to lead the way for what’s happening anywhere else.”

The $800,000 project was entirely financed through community and local industry donations as well as government grants.

“No funds were taken away from the health care budget,” said Don Nutini, chair of the Lower Columbia Community Development Team’s (LCCDT) health and hospital committee, which spearheaded the project.

His team went around Greater Trail and gave presentations on the possibilities of a helipad to various individuals and companies, lobbying them for support.

“They came on board immediately,” said Nutini.

“The people of Trail are giving, they donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to our regional hospital.”

Patients can be picked up in remote areas of the Kootenays and flown to Trail instead of Kelowna, which was the only other hospital with a helipad in the region. The time saved by flying patients will result in saved lives.

“A heliport – we hope we never have to use it, but it will save lives and places us in the 21st century as far as transportation of injured people,” said Nutini.

The amount of donations and creative financing that was used for the helipad has laid a strong foundation for future helipads. Other hospitals are taking a look at the success in Trail for there own landing space.

“We are going to need to use helicopters service more to help transfer patients from remote hospitals, those hospitals as well need to have heliports,” stated Hampf.

“So I think we are going to see this expand and develop throughout Interior Health that will make transfers using helicopters easier.”

B.C. Ambulance is in charge of dispatching a helicopter. Many variables have to be checked before a helicopter is sent. Factors like weather, seriousness of injury and availably of other medical vehicles are all looked into before a helicopter is dispatched.

The importance of a helicopter accessible region was proven on Oct. 6 when a Trail man was airlifted to Vancouver General Hospital after a serious vehicle accident.

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