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Helicopter ambulances will soon be able to land at the hospital in Tofino, B.C. after an eight-year absence.
Island Health is working with the Tofino General Hospital Foundation and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District to build a new helicopter pad next to the hospital, the health authority announced this week.
The relatively remote location of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island makes medical helicopter access vital for quick evacuations.
“There’s the challenge of having one road [out] and it’s a windy road,” said Marie Duperreault, interim executive director of the area for Island Health.
“In order to have expedient service for those who really need that urgent evacuation, a helicopter or air transport is important.”
She said the community has been concerned about the lack of a hospital helipad for years.
A public consultation was held in 2016 with community stakeholders — including municipal representatives, neighbours and the hospital foundation — to go over proposals for the new helipad.
“The community has been clear that a helipad at Tofino General Hospital is an important part of the health-care picture for this region and it is great news that this project is moving forward,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix in a press release.
The Tofino General Hospital has been without helicopter service since 2011 when the previous helipad was shut down after Transport Canada ordered upgrades.
“In the interim, we have still been able to have airvac landings which took place at the Tofino airport which is located about 20 minutes by land ambulance from the hospital,” Duperreault told Jason D’Souza, the host of CBC’s All Points West.
The hospital will continue to rely on a combination of ground ambulances and air evacuations via the airport until the new helipad is ready which is expected in early 2019.
The relatively remote location of Tofino, on the tip of Vancouver Island, makes medical helicopter access all the more vital for quick evacuations. 5:09
With files from All Points West.
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