A new Emergency Health Services (EHS) mobile critical care ground-transfer unit is now providing intensive care for EHS LifeFlight patients en route to Halifax hospitals.
This unit was originally planned for launch later this year. It was moved up in response to a recent change in Transport Canada policy that prohibited the EHS LifeFlight helicopter from landing on helipads at the QEII Health Sciences Centre, IWK Health Centre and the Digby General Hospital.
Dr. George Kovacs, EHS LifeFlight medical director, said this unit will give EHS more options to offer intensive medical care to critically ill patients en route to hospital.
“We pride ourselves on providing exceptional medical care as quickly as possible, whether that’s on the ground, in the air or in hospital,” said Dr. Kovacs, who is also an emergency room physician at the QEII Health Sciences Centre. “This new critical care unit will expand our options and help EHS LifeFlight access and transport patients in need of our expertise.”
On April 1, Transport Canada informed Canadian Helicopters Ltd., which operates the EHS LifeFlight helicopter, that it would no longer be allowed to land at helipads located near densely populated areas in Halifax and Digby. This change was effective immediately. Helipads are certified by Transport Canada.
Sylvain Séguin, vice-president and chief operating officer of Canadian Helicopters Ltd., said the company is investigating a permanent solution that will allow EHS LifeFlight to land on the helipads once more.
“We know the current EHS LifeFlight helicopter is safe to use, however, we must respond to this situation to ensure Nova Scotians get the speedy transport to hospital that EHS LifeFlight is meant to provide,” said Mr. Séguin.
The EHS LifeFlight helicopter is now landing in Halifax at a Transport Canada certified helipad near the Point Pleasant Park parking lot or at the Halifax airport. In Digby it is landing at the nearby airport.
These locations have been used for many years whenever weather or other conditions required the use of alternate landing sites.
“Nova Scotians know that when they need medical care from EHS, whether it’s on the ground on in the air, they are getting the best care possible,” said Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine. “I’d like to thank EHS staff for stepping up to ensure safe and speedy care in the short term, while we work on a long-term solution.”
The current EHS LifeFlight helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76A manufactured in 1980, recently passed its regular Transport Canada safety inspection. However, this helicopter model does not have the certification level now required by Transport Canada regulations to land at certain helipads.
The helicopter flew 389 of the total 750 EHS LifeFlight missions last year. Nova Scotia currently spends $3.6 million per year for EHS LifeFlight helicopter service.