Medical Helicopter Moved From Its Base At Ashley Regional Medical Center In Vernal, UT
After a year of operations flying critically injured and ill patients to and from Ashley Regional Medical Center in Vernal, UT, a single person's complaints to the FAA has forced an air ambulance company to relocate its aircraft to Vernal Regional Airport (KVEL) ... about two miles from the hospital.
Tony Henderson, president of Classic Aviation of Woods Cross, UT, which operates Classic Lifeguard air ambulance service in three states, said they have not been told they can't use the helipad at the hospital, but the FAA made a "strong recommendation" that they not base the aircraft on the campus.
Henderson told the Deseret News that the crew for the helo is located across the street from the helipad, making it easy for them to quickly prep both the aircraft and a patient and be airborne. Moving the aircraft two miles away to the airport means the crew has to drive to the airport, prep the helicopter, and fly to the hospital before a patient can be transported.
Henderson said that it appeared that a single person living near the hospital complained often enough to the FAA that the agency finally made the recommendation to move. While Henderson said the complaints were more about noise, the person who contacted the FAA told the paper that his concerns were more about safety. He said that the helipad's location in a residential neighborhood with mature trees was a problem, and that other medical helicopters had been forced to land behind the hospital because of the one sitting idle on the helipad. He said he would not give his name for fear of reprisals.
The hospital administration said that the intersection behind the facility is only used when there is a need to have two helicopters, meaning two patients are in need of transport. Henderson told the paper that he hopes a solution can be found, and that the FAA will inspect the site and "see that it is a safe place."