Reserve status change chance to improve medivacs

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
Changing part of Traill Park at Stewart Island from a recreation reserve to a local purpose reserve will mean a helipad can be built at the site allowing for medivacs in all weathers.

In a report to be tabled at tomorrow's Southland District Council meeting, property adviser Theresa Cavanagh says there were 60 medivac flights from Stewart Island in the past year.

While most are made by fixed-wing aircraft from the Ryan’s Creek air strip, the use of a plane is determined by daylight hours, weather, medical staff available and condition of the patient.

Some helicopter medivacs are already taking place at Traill Park which is not a helipad and cannot be used in all weather conditions.

‘‘Helicopters land on the grass and emergency services vehicles drive on to the reserve,’’ the report states.

‘‘Access can be difficult for vehicles, particularly in wet conditions and can put fragile patients at risk. Therefore, a hardstand area is required.’’

The report says that Oban
has an opportunity to link
into the instrument flight
rules (IFR) navigation system which enables helicopters to fly in the dark and in adverse weather conditions.

The system requires a lit helipad with a windsock but in order for the helipad to be constructed the reserve status has to be changed.

‘‘This reclassification will enable Future Rakiura Inc, the proposed owner-operator of the helipad, to enter into a lease agreement with the Southland District Council to construct and operate a helipad for emergency landings, subject to public notification,’’ the report states.

Helicopters Otago director Graeme Gale would co-ordinate a designated route to the site for the use of the IFR system which is administered by Aeropath.

Costs and funding for the helipad would be met by Future Rakiura Inc, with the support of the health committee, through grants and fundraising. It would also pay for any external fees the council incurs such as legal and gazette fees.

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