Helipad Planned For Hospital Site

Thursday, 22 May 2014
A new emergency helipad is expected to be ready before Christmas on the grounds of Portland District Health (PDH).

PDH is this week starting community consultation to explain plans to construct the helipad between Seaview House and the hospital emergency department.

Meetings will be held with residents and families of Harbourside Lodge and Sea View House and the broader community is invited to comment on the plan.

PDH Chief Executive Officer Chris Giles said the helipad would provide a safe and efficient site to evacuate patients in need of urgent life-saving care outside of Portland.

Previous plans to build the helipad on the Ploughed Field were recently reviewed and the hospital site was the better option.

It was impractical to bring patients across the road under the previous plan as an ambulance crew would have been required. The Ploughed Field is also a very important historical link to Portland, Ms Giles said.

She said the new site was perfectly positioned next to the emergency department and was the safest and most practical location. It is a more efficient use of resources and the best site for moving people in urgent need.

The helipad does not require council planning approval but PDH is working closely with Glenelg Shire to ensure traffic and other considerations are properly handled.

It will require the removal of 10 car parks from Bentinck Street, up to two Norfolk Island pines the power lines and some shrubs, along with the relocation of the flagpole and one of the whale pot.

Ms Giles said the car parks would be replaced on the hospital grounds. We plan to create new car parks between Harbourside Lodge and the theatre area and re-mark existing car parks to provide more spaces,she said.

The helicopter will arrive over the Ploughed Field site and hover across to the hospital at about 100m above Bentinck Street. Traffic lights will be installed at either end of the street and will be activated only when the helicopter is arriving and departing.

Ms Giles said the new site earmarked for the helipad had been earlier mooted as a potential site for expanding the hospital and therefore not considered as an option.

The existing building is sufficient for our needs. If more capacity was required in the future we could redevelop and improve use of space in the existing building, she said.

Glenelg Shire supports the idea and is working with us to move the project along, with the hope of having it completed this year.

There is an average of two helicopter transfers each month.

Mrs Giles said a rooftop helipad was not practical and prohibitively expensive as it required considerable engineering to meet safety standards and the addition of elevator access to the emergency department below.

The proposed site is a good size and location and would not disrupt views for residents. We think the community will support the plan,she said.

PDH has been working on the helipad plan for several years in partnership with the Blue Ribbon Foundation and the Committee for Portland.

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