CHICO, Calif. -- Caltrans has launched a website that shows pilots of Emergency Medical Services helicopters all they need to know about landing on the 150 California hospitals that have heliports.
"I think it's really useful," said Marty Marshall, director of operations for Enloe Medical Center's FlightCare helicopter. "It's actually a great resource for newer pilots."
In the 26 years Marshall has worked with FlightCare, he's flown to all the hospitals the Enloe helicopter would go to, he said.
But even in his case, with a hospital he hadn't flow to in some time, the website can provide a good refresher.
And for a pilot who has worked for Enloe for five years or less, the website would give valuable information on hospital heliports he or she had never been to, he said.
"Maybe I'm the new pilot taking a patient to Stanford for the first time. A guy can get out his iPad and look at what it looks like without having been there."
"They have aerial photography, so you can see approach and departure paths," he said. "You can see the shape of the hospital and the helipad."
In a news release, acting Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty was quoted as saying, "Until now, emergency responders had no single source of information on the locations and capabilities of these heliports."
The Hospital Heliport website was developed by Caltrans in cooperation with the EMS Authority, EMS operators and other stakeholders, the news release said.
"The result is an interactive state map that shows the locations of hospital heliports. Emergency responders can 'zoom' into county or regional views and select information about a particular heliport."
Marshall said the site has lots of essential information, such as the maximum weight and size of a helicopter a given heliport can handle.
It makes sense that Caltrans would take the lead on a website like this, he said. "Caltrans has a division that certifies heliports and does yearly inspections."
He said FlightCare mainly flies around the north valley and to the Bay Area. Lots of patients are flown to UC Davis, UCSF or to Stanford for special care.
Enloe and hospitals in Redding and Reno all offer the same levels of care, he said. But sometimes FlightCare will pick up injured or ill people in the field and take them to Reno or Redding because they are closer to their homes and are where they get medical care.
Sometimes FlightCare goes over to hospitals on the coast to transport patients to facilities where higher levels of care are offered, he said.
At times, he said, FlightCare will take a patient from a hospital in Redding to Enloe, or vice versa, because that's where a specialist is available that day who the patient needs to see.