Flying visit to say thanks for helipad

Saying thank you to those responsible for creating the helipad at Maniototo Hospital in Ranfurly...
Saying thank you to those responsible for creating the helipad at Maniototo Hospital in Ranfurly are (from left) Maniototo Health Services chairman Stuart Paterson, helicopter pilot Graham Gale, ICU doctor Mike Hunter and Maniototo St John manager Glenis Crutchley. PHOTO: KAY DUNDASS
It might be just a slab of concrete - but with a set of powerful lights and a windsock it is just what the doctor ordered for the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter.

The helipad at Ranfurly’s Maniototo Hospital has been in place for well over a year, but last night a helicopter crew dropped in to say thank you to those who had arranged it, raised the $70,000 to pay for it and built it.

Pilot and HeliOtago managing director Graeme Gale said it was an excellent facility, providing firm ground on which to land the rescue helicopter close to the hospital’s emergency department.

Most medical facilities in Otago and Southland now have a dedicated helipad.

Hospital general manager Geoff Foster said it was "a practical thing, not a thing of beauty" but did look impressive when lit up at night.

The $7 million, 29-bed Maniototo Hospital was opened in April last year.

The old hospital had an area of grass on which the helicopter landed.

The flying time for the rescue helicopter from Dunedin to Ranfurly is about 20 minutes, considerably faster than it takes an ambulance to drive the distance.

The rescue helicopter undertook a record 1328 rescues across the lower South Island last year.

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