Friday, June 28 2013, 01:08 PM MDT
Milford Community Builds Life Flight Helipad
By Ladd Egan
(KUTV) A Southern Utah community has come together to make sure medical helicopters can land at their hospital.
The small city of Milford in Beaver County has a brand new helipad built almost entirely with donated materials and labor.
“It feels great that it’s done,” said Les Whitney, Milford’s Fire Chief and Beaver County’s Emergency Manager. “It was just a passion that we wanted to complete.”
The helipad sits behind the recently built Milford Memorial Hospital. Without the helipad, hospital staff used to rope off sections of the parking lot and adjacent road to allow medical helicopters to land.
“We always had challenges landing a helicopter,” Whitney said. “Finding a spot big enough that didn’t have a whole bunch of trees around or electrical power lines.”
The nearest trauma center from Milford is Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, a two-hour drive by ambulance.
“Without AirMed and Life Flight we couldn’t get the people where they need to be to get treatment,” said Michelle Barton, the area’s ambulance director. “It is so important because it can take us a half hour to even get to a patient in our area, if not an hour.”
The helipad is 50 by 50 feet in size and has concrete 8 inches deep. The landing area is surrounded by FAA-approved lighting and is connected to the emergency room with a lighted cement pathway.
The new landing pad is better for patients and also gives pilots a predictable place to land, Whitney explained, “all they have to do it punch up the coordinates of this facility and it directs them right here and they don’t have to second guess.”
Whitney says a bid to build a helipad at the hospital came in around $120,000. Whitney turned to the community for help when the hospital didn’t have the budget for the project.
Residents and local companies donated money and construction materials; while inmates from the nearby jail provided the labor.
“With the inmate work crew, they provided probably 90% of the labor,” Whitney said. “We were looking at a $120,000 to build this pad and we’re into it probably $15,000 to $20,000.”
St. George-based Life Flight pilot Russ Thacker volunteered to be part of the committee in charge of the helipad and offered professional advice on its design.
“I’m proud of them,” Thacker said. “I’d be happy to use that pad whenever they call.”
“You wouldn’t expect to see that quality there,” Thacker said of the finished helipad. “It’s as good a pad as you’ll see just about anywhere.”
To celebrate the new landing pad Milford is holding a ribbon cutting and free health fair this Saturday, March 23rd, at the hospital’s campus. During the event a Life Flight helicopter will land on the helipad for the first time.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)