That 26-minute selling feature all those years ago had Brown’s committee and service clubs pushing for funds, volunteers, and in-kind help.
“We were begging for funds. We had to buy special reinforcing stuff, and we had to buy lights and so on … but we had to have volunteers too. The community just got behind us. There’s no other way of putting it,” said Brown.
Brown said setting down on a proper pad is what pilots prefer.
“They were landing in the parking lot of the hospital here,” Brown explained. “When they put a call in for the helicopter, this is where Chief Cook got into it. He would come to the hospital and try and find out who owned these cars and if he could get the keys to them and get the cars moved to see if the heli- copter could land.”
Cook said the fire department would have a truck on the scene for safety reasons and his officers would have to stay on site until the patient was stabilized and able to be loaded onto the chopper. He said that could be a few minutes or as long as five hours.
“The other side of this coin is the health system,” Brown said. “I made a phone call at approximately at 3:30 on a Saturday morning and was picked up, taken to the hospital, sent to Halifax, had two stents installed, and was back in my room in the Infirmary by 3:30 that afternoon. This all happened within 12 hours. You’ve got to think that somewhere along the way the health service is not quite as bad as it’s made out to be.”
Cook said getting the helicopter pad built was a highlight of his career as Middleton PD chief. That it saved his friend Ron Brown’s life, well, that was good too.
“It just goes to show the importance of such a helipad requirement at our hospital,” Cook said. While support was high back 18 years ago, Cook did hear some criticism, people asking why have a helicop- ter pad if the hospital is downsizing?
“My attitude was that was all the more reason to have it,” Cook said. “The government, seeing us building that helipad, we weren’t giving them the okay to downsize.”
Neither Brown nor Cook had to wait long for the Soldiers Memorial Hospital helipad to be used.
“I remember the first air flight in there,” said Cook. “It was a young child. He might have been five or six years old. He was a very severe diabetic and on this particular day the first flight in was for that young child.”