Air ambulances diverted to Pitt Meadows airport

Helicopters barred from landing at seven B.C. hospitals.

An air ambulance landed at Albion Sports Complex in east Maple Ridge in February after a man fell from a roof.

Air ambulance patients are being re-routed to Pitt Meadows Regional Airport because helicopters have been barred from landing at seven B.C. hospitals.

There is no landing pad at Ridge Meadows hospital, but Tasleem Juma of Fraser Health said both Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster and Surrey Memorial Hospital are among those.

Vancouver General and B.C. Children’s Hospital are two other Lower Mainland hospitals where air ambulances can no longer land since Friday, Aug. 12.

Patients being taken to Royal Columbian or Surrey Memorial are now re-routed to Pitt Meadows airport, where they are transferred into an ambulance and driven to hospital.

It is 22 kilometres from Pitt airport to Royal Columbian, and 18 km to Surrey Memorial.

The drives add about 15 minutes to a trip that would otherwise be less by helicopter, according to health officials.

Helijet International, the company contracted to operate air ambulance service in B.C., has been ordered by Transport Canada to stop landing at the hospitals, because its Sikorsky S76 aircraft do not comply with regulations.

“The care and safety of our patients is our first priority. Patients requiring air ambulance service are being flown to affected hospitals via alternate landing sites nearby, then transported by ground ambulance, accompanied by highly-trained paramedics,” said Jodi Jensen, chief operating officer, B.C. Emergency Health Services.

“We welcome Transport Canada’s review of Helijet’s operations to give us all assurance that our patients and air ambulance crews continue to be safe. As part of our agreement, we require and expect Helijet to fully comply with all applicable aviation regulations, and to take whatever steps are necessary to comply, including equipment or fleet enhancements.

Health services, Transport Canada and Helijet are working to restore service to the seven hospital landing pads, but no resolution has been reached yet.

Jensen added that ambulance services in Maple Ridge have not been affected.

“It is rare for us to respond to calls in Maple Ridge by air ambulance, due to its close proximity by ground ambulance to hospitals in the region. That said, we will continue to closely monitor and evaluate our operations in Maple Ridge, in an effort to ensure we continue to have no impacts to service.”

A B.C. Emergency Health Services spokesperson said air ambulance calls make up a small percentage of the overall number of those for paramedics. There are about 1,500 calls for emergency ambulance service across the province every day, but in the past week there has been just one patient diverted from Pitt Meadows airport.

However, Helijet does almost 700 landings at the seven hospitals each year. Other hospitals affected are in Nanaimo, Comox and Sechelt.

The hospitals Helijet can no longer land all have landing pads with an H1 designation, meaning they are in urban areas or sites where takeoff and landing is restricted.

Helijet has been working with Transport Canada, seeking an exemption while it works to resolve the safety issues, and demonstrate that its aircraft are in compliance.

The company has said it has been operating air ambulances in the province for 18 years.

 

– with files from CTV BC

 

Just Posted

Rotary duck race winners given sports car

First big win for Maple Ridge mother of three boys Jody Makela

Maple Ridge’s first retail cannabis store opens Monday

Spiritleaf is just the second private pot shop in the Fraser Valley

Burrards lose to Shamrocks in double overtime

WLA championship series moves to Maple Ridge Sunday

Senior men’s exhibition baseball in Maple Ridge

Elite Burnaby Bulldogs take on Royals Saturday

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Young balance-bikers race in B.C.’s inaugural Strider Cup

The course has several obstacles including ‘Mount Scary’ and the ‘Noodle Monster’

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Most Read