Helipad receives lighting
Victims of serious nighttime accidents along the U.S. Highway 50 corridor have a better chance of survival.
The U.S. Forest Service held a dedication ceremony for their newly installed lights on their helipad at the Pacific Ranger Station a few miles east of Pollock Pines Friday. The cost of the project was about $15,000.
Output Technology Solutions, a communications processing company in El Dorado Hills, was instrumental in raising the funds to install the helipad lights. Scott Shelton, senior vice president and general manager of OTS, said OTS management took on the project more than a year ago because they felt it would improve the safety of El Dorado County residents and tourists traveling on Highway 50.
“This is exciting not only for people from El Dorado County but the people who go up the 50 corridor to Tahoe,” Shelton said. “We pick up (issues) that we deem as important to the community and this one was a no-brainer.”
The helipad has been in place for nearly 40 years but because it had no lighting, nighttime landings were not conducted because they were considered too risky.
The only landing options for medical helicopter flights before the installation of the lights was either in South Lake Tahoe or Placerville. Transporting a patient to either of those locations by ambulance from the Highway 50 corridor could take as long as 45 minutes. Mary Lynn Carlton, community relations director of OTS said the extra driving time could be the difference between life and death.
“Without having night lights at this helipad people have to be transported further by land,” Carlton said. “There is this concept of the “Golden Hour” that if you get a person to a hospital within an hour their chances of survival are much greater.”
Funding for the lights came from a number of donors such as the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department, Sacramento Municipal Utilities District, Calstar as well as private citizens. Rich Platt of the U.S. Forest Service said he was happy with the amount of support the project received from the community.
“The neatest part is how much community support we got realizing this helipad is needed here,” Platt said. “It is just one of those projects that shows how a community can come together. Partnering at its best.”
Platt said the Forest Service also plans to install lights at their helipad at their Big Hill Station near Crystal Bay to further improve the rate of response to serious accidents in the Highway 50 corridor. He said the new lights are expected to be installed by the end of the summer.
“We are ordering the lights this week and hopefully will have them installed by Labor Day,” Platt said.
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