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Transport Canada order enables flights to resume at four hospitals

BCEHS air ambulance flights operated by Helijet have resumed at four hospital helipads, as a result of an exemption order issued late yesterday by Transport Canada.
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The four hospital helipads are:

  • Nanaimo Regional General Hospital
  • St. Joseph’s Hospital, Comox
  • Sechelt Hospital
  • Vancouver General Hospital (day flights only) – night flights will continue to be diverted to either the Vancouver Harbour Heliport or Vancouver International Airport, with final patient transport by ground ambulance.

In addition, BCEHS anticipates that flights will also resume shortly at the helipad shared by BC Children’s and BC Women’s Hospitals, subject to minor site modifications required by Transport Canada, which BCEHS is immediately addressing.

The exemption allowing for the flights is in place until January 31, 2017, to provide Helijet time to work with Transport Canada and Sikorsky, the manufacturer of its three S76 C+ aircraft, to resolve outstanding regulatory requirements.

The existing Transport Canada restriction on Helijet flights to two other hospital helipads – Royal Columbian Hospital and Surrey Memorial Hospital – remains in effect. Patients requiring air ambulance transport will continue to be transported to Pitt Meadows Airport, and then transported to hospital by ground ambulance, accompanied at all times by critical care paramedics.

Transport Canada has identified additional issues with the size of these two helipads. BCEHS is actively working with Fraser Health and Transport Canada to resolve the helipad issues.

BCEHS will also continue to work with Transport Canada and Helijet to fully meet Transport Canada’s requirements and restore night flights at VGH.

All seven hospital helipads are “H1” category helipads. H1 helipads, as defined by Transport Canada, are those having the strictest operational restrictions, as they are generally in urban settings with landing obstacles. 

Linda Lupini, Executive Vice President, BC Emergency Health Services

“I’m pleased that the collaborative efforts of BCEHS, Helijet and Transport Canada have allowed flights to resume at four hospital helipads. BCEHS will continue to work with Helijet and Transport Canada to fully resolve the outstanding regulatory issues that Transport Canada has identified. As part of our agreement, we expect Helijet to take the necessary action to fully comply with Transport Canada’s requirements, including any necessary equipment or fleet enhancements.”

​Quick facts: 
  • The BCEHS air ambulance fleet has a total of 10 aircraft – four helicopters, and six fixed-wing aircraft based in Vancouver, Victoria, Kamloops, Prince George and Prince Rupert. 
  • The four helicopters are operated by contractors – three by Helijet International, and one by Summit Helicopters.
  • BCEHS air ambulances carry approximately 7,000 patients annually.
About BCEHS​

BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) is responsible for the delivery and governance of pre-hospital emergency medical care and inter-facility patient transfer services through the BC Ambulance Service and the BC Patient Transfer Network. BCEHS is supported by the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA).​

Media contact

Vincent Chou
Communications Officer, Provincial Health Services Authority
604-675-7481or 604-871-5699 (PHSA Media Pager) ​ ​

BC Ambulance Service; BCEHS; emergency response; patient care
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