Helicopter Watchers Warned To Be Safe

General
Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Health authorities fear the transfer of critically ill patients on Portland’s life-saving emergency helicopter service could be delayed if people don’t follow signage protecting its flight path.

People watching the emergency helicopter land in Portland are being asked to stay clear. The issue of viewers standing too close to the flight path was raised by helicopter pilots during a recent meeting with Portland District Health.

Director of Corporate Services Ros Jones said PDH had met with pilots who were very happy with the helipad and the processes in place for staff but had concerns with the public standing near their path of flight.

In the interest of safety it is requested people view the landing and the take-off outside the signed areas, she said. Observing the helicopter within the flight path could potentially delay the arrival or departure of the helicopter or result in an incident.

The arrival area on the Ploughed Field is marked and has safety lighting for night arrivals.

The triangular area on the Ploughed Field is clearly marked and when the helicopter is there, people need to remain behind the designated signs, Ms Jones said.

The helicopter needs to hover across Bentinck Street from the Ploughed Field to land on the helipad near the PDH Urgent Care Centre.

It's crucial that the helicopter has safe access to the helipad, Ms Jones said. It's a great service that's working well but we need to make sure it's safe for everyone.

PDH has also reminded motorists, the general public and staff to observe road rules and stop at the traffic red lights which are activated when the helicopter arrives and departs.

The traffic lights will generally remain red for about five minutes during the helicopters arrival and departure. Detours are available via Percy Street from Tyers Street or Fern Street.

The pilots have requested that when the helicopter is stationary on the helipad, accessing and departing to and from the carpark at the rear of the helipad be kept to minimum unless approval is given by the pilot.

A new radio has been introduced which connects the helicopter pilots with PDH 15 minutes before their arrival.

The helipad was officially opened last December. It was dedicated as a permanent police memorial in memory of Senior Constable Mark Bateman who died with his partner Senior Constable Fiona Robinson in 2000 when their divisional van was involved in a crash while answering a priority one call at Northcote.

It is being used about four to five times per month and is markedly reducing the time taken to transfer critically ill patients to regional or tertiary care.

Regional Director of the Barwon South West Air Ambulance, Simon Thomson, said the movement of an aircraft over built up areas was a complex and heavily regulated activity.

Mr Thomson said the helipad was a significant improvement over previous arrangements, and he praised all staff for their care and professionalism in the care of patients through the helipad operation.


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