Whistler Blackcomb helping Vancouver Coastal Health with road closures 

The Whistler Health Centre could have H2 helicopter certification any day now.

Tree removal was completed last week, which paved the way for the H2 status that Vancouver Coastal Health has been busy working toward for over a month.

The delay in certification has been chalked up to a "couple of hiccups," according to Brett Crawley, the facilities project leader at VCH who is overseeing and developing the traffic management plan for road closures at Blackcomb Way and Lorimer Road when med-evac helicopters approach.

Transport Canada was onsite last Friday to inspect the work, holding off on granting H2 status because some of the staff trained to close the Lorimer Road-Blackcomb Way intersection next to the helipad weren't completely comfortable with the task, according to Crawley. He added that he won't be asking for H2 status until all staff feel they can comfortably take on the road closure procedure.

Whistler Blackcomb is working in partnership with VCH to implement the road closures, which are currently being undertaken by the RCMP until staff training and practice procedures have been completed.

"It's kind of a partnership that we've worked out between the two of us for a short-term plan while we figure out the engineering," Crawley said.

VCH held a training session last Monday and Tuesday, with four members of the Whistler Health Care Centre and six Whistler Blackcomb staff. He said there will likely be another training session in January to train a few more WB staff

"You never know who's going to be in who's going to be off. The more people who have the training the better it will be," Crawley said.

"We have trained more than we would need on any given day, so hopefully we can have at least two people that can assist," said Brian Leighton, Whistler Blackcomb's safety manager.

Crawley said the "sheer size of the road closure" was the reason VCH needed to reach out to other organizations to help out.

Three points of control are needed to implement the road closures when a helicopter is called in to transport a patient from the health care centre. That means three people are needed to make the intersection safe - a number the health care centre can't afford to lose during daily operations.

Crawley said he's working with a transit consultant who should be engaged before Christmas, with plans to start design on the long-term plan in the new year.

He said he doesn't know what the engineering design will look like - he has asked the consultant for a variety of options for what's appropriate for the area - but he hopes to have the design completed and installed by late March or early April, before WB releases its winter staff.

So far, only one helicopter has landed at the heliport since this issue began in November. The RCMP looked after that one.



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