Hamilton General Hospital relocates helicopter landing to rooftop


The relocation of Hamilton General Hospital’s helicopter landing pad from street level to a larger, better rooftop space will mean quicker, more direct access to care for trauma patients.

As the region’s trauma centre, Hamilton General Hospital provides critical care to the most serious neuroscience, burn, cardiac, and trauma patients from throughout south-central and south-west Ontario – a region with a population of 2.3 million people. Each year, more than 400 patients are airlifted to the Hamilton General.

“With all types of traumas, every minute counts, and by having a state-of-the-art heliport on the roof of our building, we’ll be able to care for patients faster and better,” said Dr. Baillie, director of Medical, Trauma Program.

In its previous ground location, the helipad posed many challenges for patients and pilots due to heavy road traffic, one-way streets, and trains on the nearby railroad tracks. In order to facilitate every landing, police had to close an intersection to traffic and the rail lines had to be cleared. Once the helicopter landed, a ground ambulance transferred patients around an entire city block to the emergency doors. This whole process added precious minutes to the overall trip time.

In addition, there was only one flight path for access to the street-level helipad and the helicopter had to land beside a six-storey concrete wall. Depending on wind conditions, the pilots sometimes had to divert to other trauma centres outside the region, taking more time and putting patients at greater risk.

In its new location, on the roof of the main building at Hamilton General Hospital, multiple flight paths are available to the pilots. After they land, the patient is transferred from the rooftop to a designated elevator and directly to the Emergency Department, and in some cases the Heart Investigation Unit, the Operating Room, or the Intensive Care Unit.

The pre-fabricated heliport is 60 feet square with an 80-foot octagonal aluminum deck platform and a seven-foot wide perimeter safety net. A buffer space between the landing pad and the roof reduces noise and vibration.

The new heliport is outfitted with its own fire protection system and an ARCAL lighting system, which allows the pilots to control the deck lighting, including the landing lights and the perimeter floodlights. The heliport also has a snowmelt system to ensure a safe landing and easy walking access.

The ‘H’ identification on the deck serves two purposes. It restricts the heliport to air ambulance landings, and gives the helicopter pilots a bearing point.

The elevator serving the heliport is one of only three of its size in Ontario. It features a call button on all levels that will allow security to call the elevator when needed, eliminating wait times. Additionally, a priority key triggers a flashing light, notifying occupants to exit the elevator, and allows security to call the elevator to a specific floor.

The Heliport is slated to be completed and accepting patients before the end of August 2007.