Swift Cur­rent un­veils fourth ru­ral heli­pad in Saskatchewan


The Cy­press Re­gional Hos­pi­tal now boasts Saskatchewan’s sixth cer­ti­fied heli­pad after the cer­e­mo­nial open­ing of the lo­ca­tion on Fe­bru­ary 8.

The pro­vin­cial govern­ment pro­vided $342,000 in fund­ing in or­der to de­velop the cer­ti­fied heli­pad, join­ing Regina, Saska­toon, Moose Jaw, Este­van and Lloy­d­min­ster as lo­ca­tions with ap­proved land­ing spots for Shock Trauma Air Res­cue Ser­vices (STARS) heli­copters.

Dr. Kevin Wasko, Physi­cian Ex­ec­u­tive, In­te­grated Ru­ral Health, Saskatchewan Health Au­thor­ity, said the he­li­pads are im­por­tant fea­tures for ru­ral hos­pi­tals.

“When we need to send some­one out to our ter­tiary cen­tres, Regina or Saska­toon, peo­ple are in very grave con­di­tions. We need them to be out im­me­di­ately and get as soon as pos­si­ble, to a place where they can get the care they re­ally need,” Dr. Wasko ex­plained.

Be­cause of trans­port reg­u­la­tions and with Swift Cur­rent be­ing without a cer­ti­fied land­ing spot, they had to take pa­tients by am­bu­lance to the Swift Cur­rent Air­port, and then trans­fer them to STARS.

“Which just makes us lose pre­cious mo­ments that we need. So the fact that STARS can come di­rectly to the hos­pi­tal, roll right into our am­bu­lance bay and be able to help us to sta­bi­lize the pa­tient that much sooner, means so much in those times when mo­ments re­ally do mat­ter.”

He noted there is a clear ben­e­fit to pa­tients tak­ing ad­van­tage of the new ac­ces­si­ble lo­ca­tion.

“Ob­vi­ously if a pa­tient’s in a state that re­quires them to be trans­ferred out to ter­tiary, they’re not in a state that would be amenable to mul­ti­ple trans­fers, which is es­sen­tially what was hap­pen­ing. They would get loaded up into an am­bu­lance, driven down the road, un­loaded, loaded into the he­li­copter. This way they’re rolled out the door into the he­li­copter and they take off. So all of those trans­fers mean time, but they also mean dis­rup­tion for the pa­tient.”

Swift Cur­rent is one of the busiest com­mu­ni­ties from where pa­tients are trans­ported by STARS.

Greg Ot­ten­breit, Min­is­ter Re­spon­si­ble for Ru­ral and Re­mote Health noted there are ad­di­tional he­li­pads in the plan­ning stages, with some lo­ca­tions us­ing tem­po­rary fa­cil­i­ties be­cause they cur­rently don’t have op­er­at­ing he­li­pads.

“It’s pretty much up to the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and through the SHA that will de­ter­mine where the best places are,” he said. “STARS does have ac­cess to quite a va­ri­ety of ar­eas through­out the prov­ince, de­pend­ing on re­quire­ments, but they are ac­ces­si­ble through most of the prov­ince through most of our fa­cil­i­ties there is tem­po­rary sites set up.”

A cer­e­mo­nial grand open­ing was held for the heli­pad at the Cy­press Re­gional Hos­pi­tal on Fe­bru­ary 8.

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