SASKATOON – STARS and the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR) are now able to transport emergency patients faster, thanks to a new temporary medical helicopter landing pad on the University of Saskatchewan campus.
“It’s much closer to the Royal University Hospital, however it still does involve an EMS ground transfer. It cuts about five minutes off our transfer, which is better for our patient. But, it’s much safer for us to land in that controlled environment,” said Cindy Seidl, STARS base director and flight nurse.
The new helipad opened on Oct. 8 and compared to the old location east of the city, it allows pilots to land in a more safe, controlled, and secure location.
“Getting the patient from that location to the Royal University Hospital involved crossing an uncontrolled highway intersection. With the new location where we are behind Innovation Place on the university grounds we eliminate that crossing, potential threat to our crews and as well to the ambulance crews, and anybody else travelling on the highway,” says STARS aviation base manager Barry Tolmie.
Two years ago in October, STARS was carrying a critical patient and unsuccessfully tried to land in the intersection of College and University Drive near the Royal University Hospital. The patient succumbed to their injuries, putting pressure on the health region to build a helipad closer to the hospital.
“We talk time is brain, time is heart, time is tissue. When you have a heart attack every minute that goes by that blocked artery in your heart isn’t open, means that there is more heart damage going on. Similar for blocked arteries in the brain for stroke,” says Rob Woods, emergency physician, STARS transport physician and EMS ground transport advisor.
The helipad project is funded by the Ministry of Health and cost around $140,000. The SHR maintains the space; including daily inspections, snow removal, and coordination of take off and landing.
The temporary pad will be used until a permanent heliport is available on top of the new children’s hospital, set to open in 2019. That will eliminate the need for a ground transfer. Instead the patient will go right to the emergency department or critical care unit. Saving time that could make the difference between life or death.