By Jeremy Deutsch
Kamloops This Week
It can be a bit of a drive from Kamloops Airport to downtown, especially is you’re having a medical emergency.
Soon, residents from around the region being flown into Kamloops for medical treatment won’t have to make that drive by ambulance, as upgrades to Royal Inland Hospital’s helipad have been approved.
The upgrades got the green light after the Thompson Regional Hospital District (TRHD) voted in favour of funding a portion of the project on June 23.
The cost to upgrade the helipad is estimated at around $750,000, with the TRHD funding 40 per cent, while the remainder is coming from the Interior Health Authority.
Last August, Transport Canada advised the IHA and the BC Ambulance Service that the helicopter being used to transport critically ill patients to RIH was too large for the heliport’s certification.
RIH’s helipad is certified to accommodate helicopters up to 13 metres in length.
The helicopter used by BC Ambulance Service is 17 metres.
Since the notification, the ambulance service has been transporting most patients to the Kamloops airport for transfer to RIH by ground ambulance.
“We are very pleased with the decision of the Regional Hospital District to once again work with us on a vital investment in health care for the residents of the Thompson region,” said Interior Health Board chairman Norman Embree.
“We are now in a position to move forward with expansion of the helipad to ensure the safety of patients, staff, paramedics and flight crews.”
After a review, the IHA considered an upgrade to the existing helipad as the most effective short-term solution.
IHA had previously hired an engineering company to assess upgrades required to adhere to Transport Canada regulations, and will now be proceeding with next steps.
These include preparing a request for proposals for required construction work and securing adjacent land in order to expand the helipad.