HeliJet, the air ambulance company, has been restricted in their use of helipads and is no longer allowed to land at seven hospitals in the province of British Columbia. Although they have temporary exemptions for five of these hospitals, they still cannot land at Surrey Memorial and Royal Columbian and are not allowed to land during the night at Vancouver General. This restriction was due to performance requirements for helipads that HeliJet did not meet.
The province has had to contract in another company, Ascent Helicopters, in order to make sure first responders can get to an emergency. Such a situation occurred this Saturday when a tow truck driver had to be airlifted in a Mc Donnell Douglas 902 from the Highway 1 in Abbotsford and was taken to the Royal Columbian Hospital.
As reported by CTV, Ascent has no full medical interior for the aircraft and has simply modified the interior. The modified MD 902 is smaller than the Sikorsy S-76 used by HeliJet, but Ascent doesn’t have a night flight certificate, leaving the evenings without emergency aircraft. They are currently looking into getting exemptions for night flight at the hospitals HeliJet is restricted from.
For now, patients are either being landed at the closest possible airports or in the case of Vancouver General Hospital, at the BC’s Children’s and Women’s ground helipad, and are then taken in ground ambulances. New avenues are being looked into to resolve the issue as fast as possible.
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