The new helipad unveiled Tuesday morning meets federal government standards required for helicopters transporting patients to the hospital.
The project was finished at the end of September. Certification was received from Transport Canada on Oct. 4 and air ambulance landings started on Oct. 10.
The pad meets Transport Canada requirements for landing helicopters up to 17.5 meters long and weighing 17,000 pounds. It is in the same location as the previous site, but it extends further east with a concrete platform supported on concrete pillars jutting over the hillside.
The Thompson Regional Hospital District funded 40 per cent of the $750,000 cost of upgrading.
It's estimated that the helipad cuts 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 was operating from a City-owned property at Mission Flats. Prior to that, minus the heliport, helicopters were forced to land at Kamloops Airport.
The time difference is considered to be especially vital for patients brought in from rural areas.