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Late call sees Air Ambulance whisk sick child to Vancouver

First night call in a year; Gala raises $60,000

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Just a few weeks after getting full operational clearance, the health centre helipad was put through its paces on Nov. 11, as BC Air Ambulance arrived and whisked a sick child to care in Vancouver in the middle of the night.

Officials could not reveal details about the young patient, but confirmed that a call for Air Ambulance came in at 1:11 a.m. on Tuesday Nov. 11 to transfer a patient from the Whistler Health Care Centre to BC Children's Hospital.

The helicopter arrived in Whistler at 2:28 a.m. and left for the city at 3:20 a.m.

This is the first night landing in more than a year after extensive upgrades at the Whistler Health Care Centre to get the helipad up to Transport Canada standards.

"The helipad plays an important role in ensuring that residents and visitors have access to critical care services in the event of a medical emergency," said Vancouver Coastal Health public affairs officer Viola Kaminski. "This is a great example of how the helipad's recent upgrades are benefiting the community."

In late October, Transport Canada certified the pad for regular H1 helicopters as well as H3 single engines after $1.8 million in upgrades in the last four years.

Vital to that upgrade was a $160,000 contribution from the Whistler Health Care Foundation.

On Friday, Nov. 14 at the foundation's gala fundraiser, between $60,000 and $70,000 was raised for the helipad contribution.

That contribution is up significantly over recent years, confirmed Bryan Cleaver, chair of the foundation.

"Clearly all the work that everyone's done (to raise money to get the helipad fully operational) has already begun to pay off," he said.

"Intuitively, in an emergency situation, time is of the essence."

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