Rescue helipad upgrade smooths patient transfer

Welcoming a smoother ride ... Lumsden Fire Brigade volunteer Cara Colquhoun stands at the front of the recently completed rescue helipad. PHOTO HELEN MCFELIN

Patients transferred from Northern Southland by helicopter can expect an easier ride after the installation of a new concrete helipad in Lumsden.

Lumsden Fire Brigade volunteer Cara Colquhoun said the job of transferring patients through the previous grass pad was no easy task, as they were being pushed over less than ideal conditions.

‘‘When a helicopter patient transfers, the fire brigade guides the helicopter to land and helps to transfer the patient.

‘‘These transfers could be difficult with patients having to be pushed through long grass,’’ she said.

The brigade saw the need for smoother medical transfers and began working on getting a concreted helipad three years ago.

‘‘We saw the need — the helipad will make transfers so much easier,’’ she said.

The cost of the new helipad is $60,000, with the community chipping in to pay for the upgraded helicopter service.

‘‘We have had huge community support from the likes of the local Four Square. We still need to fundraise a further $15,000 for the project,’’ she said.

Hato Hone St John Northern Southland area committee chairman Tom Clark said there were about 20 helicopter transfers from Lumsden a year and the concreted pad and floodlights would make a huge difference.

‘‘Facilities are much, much safer.

‘‘In wet weather we could not take the ambulance across the grass — it would sink. We would have to carry patients across the the grass.

‘‘This is a huge asset and will serve Northern Southland up to Te Anau,’’ he said.