Revelstoke hospital heli-pad fundraising campaign ready for take-off

The Revelstoke District Health Foundation is about to launch the biggest fundraiser in its history.

The heli-pad is modelled after the one at Invermere's hospital.

The Revelstoke District Health Foundation is about to launch the biggest fundraiser in its history.

The organization is looking to raise $465,000 to build a new helicopter pad at Queen Victoria Hospital.

“I’ve fundraised before but not to this scale,” said Steven Hui, the co-chair of the heli-pad fundraising committee. “It’s the biggest project the health foundation has undertaken.”

The health foundation has been hoping to build a heli-pad at the hospital for at least five years. The Review raised the issue in a March 2010 article following the Boulder Mountain avalanche, when victims had to be heli-evacuated to the Revelstoke airport, then transported by ambulance to Queen Victoria Hospital, which made for a logistical nightmare.

Since then, the occasional helicopter has landed at the hospital, but they’ve had to improvise landing spots, either on the road or in the parking lot, said Hui.

“Obviously, when that has to happen, there’s risks involved. Helicopter pilots and medical personnel shouldn’t have to make that decision,” he said.

The lack of a heli-pad also poses challenges for transporting patients that need greater care to a different hospital.

“The helipad will play an integral part in the future of Revelstoke’s emergency services as it will serve the needs of residents, recreation visitors, manufacturing, forestry industry and also the travelling public on our dangerous highways,” wrote Hui and Fred Beruschi, who are co-chairing the fundraising campaign, in a letter to council

“We are all aware of the increased number of injuries resulting from ski hill and mountain biking activities. These will only increase further with the increasing popularity of Revelstoke as a destination city for outdoor adventure. We believe that a mountain community like Revelstoke with no heliport is a tragedy waiting to happen.”

After years of work, the health foundation is ready to fundraise for the heli-pad. Earlier this year, a detailed design was finalized for the pad, with the cost coming in at $465,000. Last Tuesday, Revelstoke council endorsed the project.

Simply getting the design done was expensive, with $40,000 in funding coming from the health foundation and tourism infrastructure fund.

Because of the scope of the project, the health foundation hired Carol Palladino to manage the campaign.

Hui said they will be looking for federal and provincial grants, but a large focus will be on raising money locally. He also noted the tendency for local businesses to step up with in-kind donations.

“We are hopeful,” said Hui. “If we have a target, it would be nice to have the money in place by early next spring or summer.”

Anyone interested in helping out with fundraising can contact Hui at owner@revelstokepharmasave.com or 250-837-1096.