BRADFORD, Texas, July 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Emergency responders in Anderson County and the surrounding region soon will have access to new heliports that will support medical transport of critical-care patients to hospitals in Dallas and Tyler. The facilities, located between Palestine and Athens off State Highway 19, are the result of a public-private partnership between the Bradford community, local emergency departments and Bradley Oaks Ranch. EMS personnel and pilots began preliminary trials this week at the heliports, which are expected to be fully operational later this summer.
In January, the Anderson County Commissioners Court approved zoning regulations for two heliports and three landing pads on the Bradley Oaks Ranch property. The zoning restricts the height of any surrounding structures, including power and transmission lines that can be dangerous for aircraft. The helipads also are safely away from wildlife habitats on the property, including identified nesting sites of American bald eagles. Each of the three landing pads will be available for emergency use, allowing for landings by multiple helicopters, which have been needed in the past to more effectively respond to severe traffic accidents and other emergencies.
"Our community has seen too many instances when a rapid response and transport was needed to help victims of auto accidents, heart attacks and strokes, but there simply were no safe places for emergency helicopters to land," says Randy Egger, spokesperson for Bradley Oaks Ranch. "We're proud to be a part of a community initiative to bring enhanced emergency care to the area."
Currently, there are no Level II (major) trauma facilities in Anderson County or the surrounding communities. As a result, many severely injured victims must be transported by helicopter to larger hospitals. Over the years, numerous clinical studies by respected medical organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, have shown that effective therapies for stroke and heart attack victims must be administered at a hospital, but they lose their effectiveness if not given within the first three hours after symptoms appear.
"This new heliport will be a great benefit to our community," says Jerry Kelley, Chief of the Bradford Volunteer Fire Department. "Our elderly residents often need emergency transport and we see a lot of car wrecks and other emergencies where major trauma is involved. We now have an option that will help people get the medical care they need and save lives, and we're grateful to everyone for making this possible."
An asphalt road provides access for emergency responders to the primary, well-lighted concrete helipads, which are placed safely away from existing power lines that can be nearly invisible to helicopter pilots. Several studies have shown that power and other transmission lines are responsible for as many as two civilian helicopter crashes each week in North America. Consistent with Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, the Anderson County Commissioner's Court recognized these risks and restricted the height of any structures, including transmission towers and lines, within a two-mile diameter of each of the heliport pads.
"By following all FAA recommendations in restricting the height of any surrounding obstacles, we worked together to encourage construction of the heliports and assure the safety of our entire community," says Anderson County Judge Robert D. Johnston. "The county's airport zoning commission and commissioner's court knew that emergency medical transport crews and our first responders needed safe and convenient access to serve the public."
The members of Anderson County's Airport Zoning Commission include Chairman Elton Bomer, former state legislator and Texas secretary of state; Bob Hill, retired commercial airline pilot; Fire Chief Jerry Kelly; David Lane, Director of Trinity Valley Electric; and Bob Sheppler, an area rancher and contractor.
Neighbors affected by the height restrictions signed supporting petitions to encourage the construction of the emergency heliports, further evidence of the project's strong support in Bradford-area communities.
"We have to recognize the tremendous financial commitment and countless hours of planning by many community leaders that made these facilities a reality," says Anderson County Commissioner Joey Hill. "Quicker access to emergency medical care has been a goal for this area for a long time, and we're very pleased that this heliport is now a reality."
The FAA-approved heliports will be used by the Palestine Regional Medical Center, local branches of the Tyler-based East Texas Medical Center, and the Navarro Regional Hospital in Corsicana. Representatives from East Texas Medical Center will regularly monitor the heliports to conduct safety checks and assess any maintenance needs.
Bradley Oaks Ranch preserves the native wildlife and habitats of East Texas and is committed to providing educational programs and other community outreach efforts to highlight the importance of conserving and maintaining native wildlife and the environment.
SOURCE Bradley Oaks Ranch