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.