Why does our community need a medical heliport?

In Emergency Care, minutes matter. At the current Telluride Regional Medical Center, where there is no heliport on site, when it’s determined that a critically ill patient needs to be transferred to another facility, the patient in Telluride Regional Medical Center care must be transferred from Telluride Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department to Emergency Medical Services (EMS) only to be transferred once again from an ambulance to a helicopter.

Each transfer takes between 5-15 minutes and the ride to the airport can take up to 18 minutes.

The patient being transferred is likely connected to any number of IV lines, nasal gastric tubes, cardiac monitors, chest tubes, medication drips, endotracheal tubes (when machines are required for breathing), urinary catheters, cervical collars, etc. and must be converted from Telluride Regional Medical Center equipment to EMS equipment before the trek to the airport.

Once at the Telluride Regional Airport, the patient then undergoes another transfer to the flight crew’s stretcher and equipment.

With each transfer from one stretcher to another there is an increased possibility of dislodging one of the life-saving components. Each transfer also heightens the risk of negatively affecting the patient’s condition, as in the case of a broken neck or fractured limbs.

After the initial transfer from Telluride Regional Medical Center the patient loses the benefit of the Emergency Department doctors, nurses and equipment and instead receives critical care in an ambulance or on an airport tarmac, sometimes at night.

A medical heliport adjacent to the new regional medical center means critically ill patients would remain in Emergency Department care continuously. Once a helicopter has landed on the medical heliport the flight crew would bring their stretcher to the ER and the patient would be transferred once, under the watchful eye of Emergency Department staff, in a controlled setting, before being rolled on a stretcher directly to the awaiting aircraft.

When minutes matter, a medical heliport will save lives.