Tree trimming and topping at the Golden & District Hospital

  • Mar. 2, 2011 10:00 a.m.
The Golden Hospital Helipad is getting some upkeep in order to maintain service in Golden.

The Golden Hospital Helipad is getting some upkeep in order to maintain service in Golden.

If you have heard a chainsaw buzzing around the Golden and District Hospital over the past week or so, you were not hearing an experimental surgery gone amiss. What you were hearing was in fact the removal and topping of trees in and around the hospital’s property. The three-week process has been authorized by Interior Health in order to meet flight path compliance standards for the hospital heliport as required by Transport Canada. “Transport Canada has made some changes to flight path regulations, so the work is being done in order to keep up-to-date with those regulations,” Health Services Administrator for Golden & Invermere, Erica Phillips said of the work.“A helicopter departs very similarly to an airplane. At a helipad, safe slopes are determined by the Canadian Aviation Regulations and related standards to allow certain types of helicopters to fly into that area. In the case of Golden Hospital’s Helipad, the helipad has an approach and departure flight path, which has a maximum slope of 12 per cent for the first 245 meters and 16 per cent for the next 830 meters. Any trees that project into the 12 per cent and 16 per cent slope surface must be topped or removed,” Communications Officer for Transport Canada, Sara Hof said, describing exactly what regulations need to be followed. In order to open up the flight path for helicopters necessary to meet the requirements put in place by Transport Canada, approximately 25 trees are being removed or topped. “To allow for safe helicopter landings and takeoffs at the helipad, the slopes leading to the helipad must be within a certain range. The steepness of flight path slopes due to tree growth are safety issues that need to be addressed by topping or removing the trees.  If they remained, the helipad would be restricted to a higher performance class of helicopters. The multi-engine requirement (H2) has been in place for almost two years and as a result of a recent survey, the Health Authority identified trees that had to be removed or topped to retain the multi-engine classification.” Hof explained.As the heliport is now, and will remain after the tree trimming, it is equipped to handle only these multi-engine (H2) helicopters. This means that the only helicopters that can land at the hospital are Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) aircrafts; these are the helicopters that fly from Golden into Calgary with emergencies.“We are lucky to have STARS in Golden. Last year STARS made 15 missions to Golden. That is why it is so important to comply with Transport Canada regulations and keep our heliport open. Invermere has lost their heliport at their hospital due to power lines that are too close to the flight path. Their helicopters are now forced to land at the airport,” Phillips said. With the work happening around the hospital for the next couple of weeks, the public can expect some of the public trails around the hospital to be temporarily closed for safety reasons.