One year after acquiring a new helipad, the Elkford Fire Department says it has been a huge asset to the community of Elkford.
Emergency responders have deemed it a successful means of helping those who are in dire need of a medical extraction.
“Since it’s been established and operational, we’ve used it a number of times. In each of those times, we’ve had some successful outcomes with people that have been critically injured,” said District of Elkford director of fire rescue and emergency services, Corey Kortmeyer.
Kortmeyer said that if the helipad was not in the community, it might have had negative impacts for those people who have needed air transportation to higher care centres in Calgary.
“Calgary, as the crow flies, it’s only 45 minutes for them to get to us,” continued Kortmeyer.
“So when we’re dealing with some critical care people like we have had in the past, it’s absolutely a breath of fresh air to have these people come in quickly, dust in, grab who they need to grab and get them to higher care as quick as they can.”
Previously, there was a helipad located behind Elkford’s medical clinic, but there were a number of issues with it and it was therefore deemed unsafe by Navigations (NAV) Canada.
After the old pad was deactivated and before the new one was built, emergency trauma teams were forced to land aircraft in the high school field, and elsewhere, on multiple occasions.
At this point, the District knew that a permanent landing structure was needed. The District proposed that a new pad be built behind the Elkford Fire Hall and NAV Canada approved.
In November of last year, The Free Press reported on the grand opening of the new helipad, a $273,371 project funded by Teck, Columbia Basin Trust and the Bearspaw Community First Foundation. Through the charity golf tournament alone, $95,000 was raised for the project.
The Elkford Fire Department has been kept on its toes throughout November, which has been busier for calls than usual. However, they are aided by their strong team of 30 volunteer and paid-on-call firefighters.
“We’re absolutely blessed,” said Kortmeyer. “I can say that we got just under 30 volunteers, paid-on-call volunteers, that are very dedicated to this family of Elkford Fire Rescue, and the community as well. They make my job easy.
“We have an amazing group of people that have dedicated a large portion of their daily activities to making sure that if you do have a bad day, they’re around to make it better.”
On December 24, the fire department will be driving around their Christmas-light-decorated fire truck, ensuring Santa makes his way from one side of the town to the other, safely.