Transport Canada has certified Royal Inland Hospital’s new helipad and expects it to be operational on Wednesday.
Transport Canada said Friday it has given all approvals to the landing pad behind the hospital, constructed at a cost of $750,000 and shared by Interior Health Authority and regional taxpayers. A federal inspector signed off it on Thursday.
IHA spokeswoman Tracy Watson said it will take a few days to notify people within its system as well as the B.C. Ambulance Service and City of Kamloops.
The IHA will hold a ceremony at the end of the month with dignitaries and politicians.
The health region was forced to build a new heliport when Transport Canada decertified the old station in August 2010.
Among those who will attend the ceremony is Bob Gray, a former pilot with the B.C. Forest Service who pushed for a decade for an air ambulance for this region.
“We lobbied, lobbied, lobbied. We got wonderful co-operation out of B.C. Ambulance Service, not so much out of Interior Health Authority,” Gray said Friday.
B.C. Ambulance Service said there were 30 transports to and from Kamloops in August. The busiest month since dedicated air service began in September 2011 was in June, which saw 42 arrivals and departures.
Gray estimated once the helipad is open Wednesday it will cut about 20 minutes off the time it takes to get a critically ill or injured patient through the hospital doors.
In lieu of being able to land at the hospital, the air ambulance currently operates from a City-owned property at Mission Flats. Prior to that, minus the heliport, helicopters were forced to land at Kamloops Airport.
“Physicians in rural areas know it’s there on a daily basis,” Gray said. “That 20 minutes can make a difference between survival or not.”