The City of Campbell River is supporting the concept of increasing medical helicopter evacuation availability around rural central and northern Vancouver Island with a new program based at the Campbell River Airport. Black Press File Photo

The City of Campbell River is supporting the concept of increasing medical helicopter evacuation availability around rural central and northern Vancouver Island with a new program based at the Campbell River Airport. Black Press File Photo

New Vancouver Island helicopter medical evac chopper base wanted

Truck Loggers Association and others look to base program out of Campbell River

The Truck Loggers Association (TLA) says there isn’t enough medical helicopter evacuation coverage in the region and is looking to create a program based out of Campbell River to fix the problem.

In a letter received by Campbell River City Council March 8, TLA executive director Bob Brash asked for – and received – the city’s support in creating such a program. A draft letter to various provincial ministers from the TLA and other organizations and businesses was also attached to the city’s letter.

The TLA, Brash writes in his letter to the city, is trying to get the provincial government to provide better emergency helicopter evacuation programs for resource workers.

“As you may be aware, while there are systems in place to do our best to get injured workers out of the woods, it is decidedly far less than similar services for a resident living in the Lower Mainland,” Brash says in his letter. “The TLA has been working on getting such a program in place for many years. Recently, an opportunity became available to yet again push this agenda forward. At present, the very preliminary plan would be to have a program based out of Campbell River allowing effective coverage for all of northern Vancouver Island and adjacent mainland areas.”

Brash says while the much of the startup and operating cost of such a program would likely need to come from government, “it is likely funds will have to come from contractors and licensees also,” adding that preliminary discussions with those groups have been “encouraging.”

Council was more than happy to throw its support behind the cause.

New city councilor Sean Smyth took the lead on the idea, having come from a background in the airport authority and being the most familiar with the ins and outs of the airport’s operations.

“I’d like to be an active participant in this,” Smyth said in proposing the city send a letter of support for the program as well as referring the letter to both the airport commission and the city’s economic development department. That motion passed unanimously.

Mayor Andy Adams says it’s ideas like this that Campbell River should be actively pursuing.

“These are the types of opportunities that we have been looking for out at the airport and we need to seize,” Adams says. “We should be supporting Mr. Brash and the TLA. Like we did with PAL Aerospace, it would be a great addition to have this based here in Campbell River.”

PAL Aerospace is the federal government contract provider for aerial surveillance of the coastlines, and recently relocated its West Coast operations to be based out of the Campbell River Airport.

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