Recent News and updates
FORT MCMURRAY, AB. — A judge says air ambulance service in the oilsands region in northeast Alberta is hobbled because helicopters can’t land directly at the Fort McMurray hospital.
A fatality inquiry report into the 2007 death of an oilsands worker recommends government officials move “with all due haste” to enable helicopter flights to the hospital, noting the lack of an approved landing pad is undermining the capabilities of the air ambulance.
Helicopters carrying injured people must now land at the city’s airport first. Patients are then transferred to a ground ambulance that drives to the hospital, a process that can take 25 minutes or longer.
“What appears to be an excellent helicopter service is not being used to its full advantage because of this problem,” provincial court Judge James Jacques said in his report released Wednesday.
“Time is a critical factor in emergency care, and the current necessity of taking patients to the helicopter base and transporting them by ground ambulance wastes crucial minutes.”
Former premier Jim Prentice promised the helipad in 2014.
Steve Rees, senior program officer with Alberta Health Services, said the department accepts the report’s recommendation.
Design work for the project is done and construction is expected to begin in the coming weeks, he said.
Rees said it’s hoped the work will be finished before the end of the 2018. Flight operations could begin a few months later pending Transport Canada approval.
“We don’t see any further delays at all,” he said. “We are really excited about getting it into operation.”
Paul Spring, spokesman for the Helicopter Emergency Response Organization in Fort McMurray, welcomed the judge’s recommendation.
He noted people in the region have been calling for the hospital landing pad for years. He said it can’t come fast enough.
“Time is the killer, and that is what we are fighting,” Spring said.
“I had a critically injured patient with an open head wound who was in really rough condition and very close to dying and we had to fly past the hospital to land at the airport to put the patient in an ambulance and take them back to the hospital.”
The judge’s finding is the only recommendation from the inquiry into the 2007 death of Ge Genbao, a worker from China who died after being injured at the Canadian Natural Resources Horizon oilsands construction site.
He died while being taken to hospital by a ground ambulance. The report said his injuries were so severe it is unlikely that a helicopter would have saved his life.
Spring said the air ambulance service is also used to help traffic accident victims and people with health problems in remote Indigenous communities.
He said it’s a shame it is taking so long to improve the service.
“I think it should have happened about 10 years ago.”
© 2017 The Canadian Press
The Fort McMurray SPCA and Alberta Spay Neuter Task Force have partnered to undertake large scale spay and neuter clinics in several RMWB First Nations communities in June 2017, and the Spring Family and Phoenix Heli-Flight have come on board to sponsor a portion of the clinics.
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In support of the Local H.E.R.O. Foundation
Featuring Chef Michael Smith
The Local H.E.R.O. Foundation is proud to present its inaugural East Coast Lobster Party, a fundraiser to help keep HERO 1 in the air and saving lives. The Foundation funds the only Fort McMurray based helicopter providing emergency medical helicopter services 24/7 in Northeastern Alberta.
Join us the evening of Saturday March 4th 2017 in the Grand Ballroom at Shell Place where world renowned Canadian chef Michael Smith and friends will host a memorable evening of maritime feasting and fun. There will be a variety of fun ways to participate in donating to this critical program.
Dress code is casual.
Sponsorship opportunities are available, call 780-799-0141 to support our life saving team.
Our new H130 is back to work with a fresh paintjob and we’ve put together a video of the painting process:
Phoenix Heli-Flight recently hosted a Turbomeca engine course at our facility. Professional training directly from the manufacturer of our helicopter engines is a fundamental aspect of our approach to safe and reliable flight operations.
The Local H.E.R.O. Foundation’s new EC135 T2e was officially unveiled on July 15th, and is now nearly ready to enter into service in the region. Take a look at the aircraft being painted and assembled, a walk-through of it at the factory, and a video put together by Shaw TV Fort McMurray of the unveiling ceremony.
We’ve been very busy this spring, and we’ve captured some great footage of training and missions that we’ll be posting to YouTube in the near future. Here are a few screenshots:
Hover Exit Training
Water Bucket Training
Phoenix Heli-Flight and the Local HERO Foundation would like to thank the Fort McMurray Tarsands Lions Club for their generous donation to the Local HERO Foundation! It is the support of community groups such as the Tarsands Lions Club which proves that the community believes in the value of the dedicated medevac helicopter program.
The EC175 helicopter which had been engaged in cold weather testing in the Canadian Arctic returned to Phoenix Heli-Flight today. The helicopter stopped for a fuel on its way back to Edmonton, where it will be loaded back onto the Antonov AN-124 cargo aircraft which brought it to Canada.