it seems like we are playing the bureaucratic blame game over the Whistler Health Care Centre’s notorious helipad.
Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) just can’t seem to catch a break on this aeronautic boondoggle. First, the project is delayed by deficiencies and inspections for almost a year, forcing B.C. Air Ambulances and search and rescue (SAR) helicopters to land at the municipal heliport, a 10 to 15 minute ride away.
Reopened since mid 2012, it soon became apparent that operations were not exactly the same as before. SAR personnel pointed out the helicopters they use of the single-engine variety could no longer land at the helipad, as per Transport Canada regulations.
Like the very caring people they are, they figured people hurt in the backcountry or on Whistler Blackcomb slopes that require emergency medical assistance might want to go directly to the doctor — not down the road and for a ride in an ambulance.
This story has unfolded over 2012 and now we have the next chapter. We were led to believe in December that VCH would conduct an analysis of what work is needed to upgrade the area — presumably tree removal and the lowering of a light standard next to the helipad itself — and get back to us.
Of course, like all things government, that is not the case. Now they are to conduct a review to see if the changes would benefit patient care. One step forward and two steps back, we twirl away waiting for somebody to solve this problem.
The problem is quite simply that as a number crunching government department, VCH likely made its decision to not upgrade the helipad for everybody based on how much it would cost. They looked only at their own internal operations and needs — the twin engine B.C. Air Ambulances — and not at the community need. Now they are to look at patient needs, which again puts this community on the backburner and further delays resolving this issue.
Added to the doublespeak with the municipality, it seems to us that this issue continues to boil down to who would have to pay for the changes needed, Whistler’s municipality being equally predisposed to making decisions based on dollars and cents, not dollars and sense.
Since this story began we have tried to determine how that initial decision was made. Conveniently the last council was blamed. This week we hear they’re not actually responsible. We must apologize for not getting to the bottom of this at the beginning, but sometimes clarity through communicating with government is elusive in Whistler and the finer details get lost in the bigger picture.
Regardless, we say screw them all. Lets solve this problem as a community, as Whistler is known to do. The Whistler Health Care Foundation and Whistler SAR should join together to begin fundraising and somebody should find out how much it would cost to actually make the change and then let’s tell the RMOW, we got this, and VCH they can stop doing what they are best at, not fixing the helipad, and do it ourselves.