Wednesday, June 8, 2016

No helicopter hangar at Mercy Hospital

Kathryn's Report:

The Devils Lake City Commission voted Monday to locate a proposed hangar for Mercy Hospital’s rescue helicopter at the Devils Lake Airport, rather than on the north side of the hospital’s property.

The original plan for the hangar would have placed it in a “high density” residential zone, prompting many in the neighborhood to voice their concerns about the plan.

“We were all there before Valley Air Med signed a contract with Mercy Hospital,” nearby resident Kari Hunt said. “Helicopters and airplanes belong at an airport, not in a residential area.”

Many of Hunt’s fellow residents attended the meeting to voice their concerns about the proposed hangar, and their objection was bolstered by the Devils Lake Planning Commission’s recommendation that the city deny the proposal.

Commissioner Rick Morse was the only vote against the denial of the building of the hangar at the hospital, asserting that putting the hangar at the airport would be “disruptive” to the timeline of the hangar’s construction.

Morse also opposed building the hangar at the airport due to his concern that the time added to evacuate patients could “endanger those in grave situations,” estimating that as many as twenty minutes could be added to patient transport time.

John Nord, manager of Devils Lake Airport, indicated that he also worried about potential issues with lag time concerning patient evacuation.

“They always say that the first hour is the critical hour, and I’m not a medical guy, (so) I can only go by what has been told to me,” Nord said.

However, Nord stated that he is ready to move forward following the commission’s decision.

“The commission has decided that (the hangar) is not going to be located at the hospital, and I as the airport manager (am) going to work hard with the company to get it to the airport property,” Nord said.

The commission also voted to deny a plan to install an 8,000 gallon above ground fuel tank on Mercy Hospital property, which will ostensibly also be located at the airport. Ultimately, the commission voted to approve continuing operations concerning the helicopter as they currently stand.

Original article can be found here:

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