Sunday 21 July 2019

Can't land at hospital

Landing pad at hospital needs work so rescue 118 can no longer land there

Sorcha Crowley

Rescue 118, the Sligo Coastguard Helicopter based at Strandhill is no longer transferring casualties directly to or from Sligo University Hospital because the helipad there needs remedial works.

The HSE has told this newspaper that CHC, the Canadian firm which carries out Search and Rescue operations on behalf of the Irish Coast Guard, recently carried out an assessment of the helipad at the hospital.

The HSE said that CHC has "recommended that some minor remedial work needs to be undertaken."

"Until this work is completed, the hospital has been advised that they will be using Sligo Airport," a spokesperson told The Sligo Champion.

It means life-or-death casualties such as injured fishermen pulled from the icy waters of the North Atlantic or climbers plucked off the side of Benbulben will have to be airlifted to Sligo Airport first, then transferred by ambulance to hospital - losing at least ten minutes of vital time before they can be treated by hospital staff.

Bizarrely, it does not impact the Air Corps helicopter which continues to land at the hospital helipad.

The HSE declined to say how long it would take them to resolve the works needed at the helipad but said the scale of the work required "isn't significant" and they were "currently working with HSE Estates to establish how best to progress and address any issues like planning" in order to allow Rescue 118 landings resume at Sligo Hospital.

CHC offered no comment when contacted by this newspaper. A spokesperson for the Irish Coast Guard said any issues of patient safety as a result of the helipad works were a matter for the HSE.

Sligo Champion