Emergency helipad proposal taking off for Cheviot
A community proposal to construct a helipad for emergency helicopters in Cheviot is taking off after approval from the Cheviot Community Committee.
The Committee approved at its recent meeting the construction of the helipad on the rugby grounds inside Miller Street Reserve for the use of emergency services only, with the construction phase to be funded by the Cheviot Lions through fundraising.
The concrete helipad will be 12 metres square and 800mm high, with 300mm above surrounding ground. Associated fittings, signage and installation of a control box and lights will be included in the construction costs.
The proposal was put forward by the Cheviot Lions Helipad Committee, which includes St John and Cheviot Volunteer Fire Brigade representatives, and is supported by Cheviot business owners and residents, as well as the Cheviot Rugby club, Equestrian Club and Cheviot A&P Association, which use the reserve.
Cheviot Lions Helipad Committee Chair Giles Pinfold said rescue helicopters have been landing in Cheviot for a number of years but having a dedicated, weatherproof landing pad would save critical time for patients during poor conditions.
“Helicopters can’t land on rough ground, so in wet weather, when the ground is churned up, they have to find somewhere else to land,” Pinfold said. “This year, there were eight instances of emergency helicopters needing to land in Cheviot. In one of those instances, the rescue helicopter had to hover around the back of the medical centre without having a safe place to land.”
It was also difficult for stretchers to be wheeled across rough ground from the ambulance to the helicopter, Pinfold said.
“As we get more of an ageing population, the need for this service is going to increase.”
Helipad committee member Emmet Daly said for critical patients the ability for air rescue helicopters to land quickly would be the difference between life and death.
Pinfold said the 24-volt lights around the perimeter of the helipad would be activated by the helicopter pilot, with the Cheviot Rugby Club supplying power to the control box and lights. “At the moment, the Fire Brigade has to come down to light up the site for the helicopter to be able to land at night.”
Hurunui District Council Chief Operations manager Dan Harris said while the construction phase of the helipad would be funded by the Cheviot Lions through fundraising, ongoing maintenance, including the remarking of lines every five years, as well as legal fees for a Licence to Occupy and Memorandum of Agreement, Council officer time, and an application fee to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), would be funded through amenity rates.
“The Westpac Rescue Helicopter and any other emergency service helicopter will be the only designated helicopters to land on the helipad and St John and the Cheviot Medical Centre will need to be on site to transfer patients,” Harris said.
A Part 157 Notice of Construction, Alteration, and Deactivation of Aeordomes will be submitted to the CAA.
Pinfold said the Lions had been waiting on approval of the site to begin approaching funding organisations, however, community donations were already coming in from local businesses.