“The opening of the new heliport at Royal Inland Hospital is good news for rural and remote communities surrounding Kamloops,” said Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake. “The new heliport will support physicians and patients living in these smaller communities by providing them with better and faster access to critical care.”
The project was completed at the end of September. Certification was received from Transport Canada on October 4th and air ambulance landings recommenced on October 10th.
“We are very pleased to announce that Air Ambulance Helicopter service has now resumed at RIH, which is great news for patients and families throughout the Thompson Valleys and a vast rural region surrounding Kamloops, as well as paramedics, physicians, and all hospital staff,” says Kamloops – South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger. “With Premier Christy Clark’s announcement of full funding last year, the new helipad completes this 11-year constituency file, at last!”
The heliport meets current Transport Canada requirements for landing helicopters up to 17.5 m in length and 7,711 kg (17,000 lbs) takeoff weight. The upgraded heliport is in the same location as the previously used site, however it extends further east with a concrete platform supported on concrete pillars, jutting out over the hillside.
“We’d like to recognize our funding partner the Thompson Regional Hospital District, as well as the City of Kamloops which allowed use of an interim helipad at Mission Flats in Kamloops,” says Interior Health Board Chair Norman Embree. “Thanks also to consultants Ground Effect Aerodrome and Contractor Greyback Construction.”
The Thompson Regional Hospital District funded 40 per cent of the $750,000 cost to upgrade the heliport.
“The development and certification of this new heliport supports communities throughout Interior Health, particularly outlying rural communities which rely on the support of the Air Ambulance for vital medical transport in their time of need,” says Regional Hospital District Chair Peter Milobar.
The style and size of helicopters used for patient transport has changed over the years since the original helipad was built. In August 2010, Transport Canada notified Interior Health that the heliport at Royal Inland was too small and didn’t meet current requirements.
Since the Transport Canada notification BCAS had been using the Kamloops airport for landings until fall 2011, when the City of Kamloops offered short term use of a City works yard property next to the river. The Mission Flats site was used by BCAS as an interim measure, reducing the critical transfer time of the patient to the hospital by ground ambulance.
“The reopening of this helipad supplements BC Ambulance Service’s dedicated helicopter air ambulance service that has been serving the Central Interior since August 2011,” said Randy MacLeod, BC Ambulance Service Unit Chief. “Access to this helipad helps paramedics to provide rapid response and high-quality care to critically ill or injured patients.”
Since September 2011, BCAS has operated approximately 300 air ambulance flights to and from Kamloops.
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