Search and Rescue requesting immediate action on helipad 

Goal is to restore single engine helicopter landing at Whistler Health Care Centre

click to enlarge CRITCAL CARE A B.C. Air Ambulance lands at the Whistler Health Care Centre last summer. The twin-engine ambulances are cleared to land at the helipad but the single engine choppers are currently banned by Transport Canada regulations.
  • CRITCAL CARE A B.C. Air Ambulance lands at the Whistler Health Care Centre last summer. The twin-engine ambulances are cleared to land at the helipad but the single engine choppers are currently banned by Transport Canada regulations.

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"We'd like to see if there's a process for some kind of temporary adjudication," he said. "It seems at some point that there is a tradeoff where the risk to the patient overrides the risk of a possible aircraft accident... where we can say with absolute probability that we're going to lose people by not flying to the clinic. It would be nice to have a situational system where we could land there. It's not a lot. If there were 10 of those a year I'd be surprised."

According to numbers compiled by WSAR, the number of helicopter landings at the Whistler Health Care Centre has dropped off significantly.

• In 2007-2008 there was a 10-year high of 79 emergency flights to the helipad, followed by 69 in 2008-2009. The numbers dropped in the Olympic year along with visitor numbers.

• From November 2010, the helipad was restricted to twin-engine helicopters, and from the start of April 2010 to the end of March 2011 there were just 31 landings.

• The helipad was closed for upgrades from August 2011 to March 2012, and then again from April 2012 to June 2012. From April 2011 to March 2012 there were 31 landings at the helipad, and from April 2012 to Nov. 17, 2012 there were just 14.

• According to Vancouver Coastal Health an average of one patient per week has to be transported from the municipal helipad to the Whistler Health Care Centre by ambulance. The health care centre averages two medical evacuations from the Whistler Health Care Centre to hospitals in the Lower Mainland every week, using B.C.'s air ambulance service.

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