SLO, Templeton Hospitals Without Heliports Since 11/05
More than seven months after an order from the state
Transportation Department closed down the helicopter pads at two
California hospitals, officials are still scrambling to come with
alternative sites for medevac helos to touch down on.
Inspectors for Caltrans' aeronautics division closed the landing
pads at San Luis Obispos' French Hospital Medical Center, and Twin
Cities Community Hospital in Templeton, last November... after
finding they failed to meet state-mandated safety criteria for
object clearance distances.
That order meant critically ill or injured patients had to be
driven to the hospitals, instead of being flown to them... adding
precious minutes that could mean the difference between life and
Fortunately, no patient has died or suffered additional injury
because of the loss of the landing sites, said county Emergency
Services Director Tom Lynch to the San Luis Obispo Tribune. But, he
added, "In those cases where it's absolutely essential, clearly it
makes a difference."
Architects at the Twin
Cities Hospital have begun to completely revamp the hospital's
landing pad, to provide adequate clearances; meanwhile,
administrators at French say they are finalizing plans to have a
backup landing site designated as an "Emergency Medical Service"
landing site, similar to what you'd find in remote areas where
medical flights are infrequent.
The designation would allow at least some medevac choppers to
land at the pad, without having to adhere as strictly to the
"The EMS site is designed to provide services for hospitals that
normally do not use these facilities that require regular, repeated
use," Caltrans aviation consultant Dan Gargas said. "It was never
intended for someone who’s getting flights in weekly or
The Tribune reports that before the pads were shut down, the
hospitals saw -- on average -- about 15 medevac flights per