Sequim’s new emergency helipad is open for business.
A large crowd gathered by the Olympic Medical Cancer Center on Olympic Medical Center’s Sequim campus Thursday afternoon, June 30, to watch as a crew from the Coast Guard base in Port Angeles provided the inaugural touchdown.
The $150,000 helipad was paid for in part by the Sequim-Dungeness Hospital Guild and through a $50,000 donation from Sequim’s own Susan Strand. Strand is a former military helicopter pilot, among the very first women to fly choppers for the U.S.
To christen the new facility, Strand broke a bottle of bubbly on the fence surrounding the pad.
Jean Janis, guild president, said her organization ponied up $40,000 for the pad, with most of the funding raised through sales at the Sequim thrift store.
With safety in mind
Scott Bower, facilities manager for OMC, said the new pad represents a vast improvement over the old system, which required pilots to land on the football field at Sequim High School. “That was very dangerous,” Bower said.
The new pad was designed and built with safety in mind, including special lights that won’t shine in the pilot’s eyes.
Regarding the pad’s utility, Bower said, “We hope we never have to use it.” But he added that it would have been utilized at least twice in recent years.
OMC board member Jim Leskinovitch, a former Coast Guard helicopter pilot, said, “You can’t do any better” than the new pad. “It’s safer for both the crew and the patient.”
Leskinovitch also pointed out that in addition to transporting patients, the pad would come in very handy if a disaster occurs in Sequim.
Leskinovitch said if there were an earthquake or another natural disaster, the U.S. Navy would be able to utilize the pad for landings by SH-60s, one of the largest workhorses in the navy’s fleet of choppers.
The pad is designed to bear up to 22,000 pounds.