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Helipad repairs need more time

August 30, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Washington County Hospital will need another two weeks to repair its helipad, which has been closed since Aug. 15, a hospital official said Wednesday.

Helicopters transporting patients to and from Washington County Hospital are landing at the U.S. Army Reserve Center at East Franklin and Willard streets, about a mile away, while the helipad is being fixed.

On Aug. 13, the hospital's facilities executive noticed a problem while inspecting the helipad, spokeswoman Nicole Jovel has said.

Some steel had rusted and corroded, Randy Sharshan, the facilities executive, said Wednesday.

He said one beam had holes and had started to bow. Bolts were shorn off, he said.

Helicopters could have landed safely in the middle of the pad, but not on the perimeter, so it was shut down, Sharshan said.

Jovel said Aug. 17 that the helipad would be closed for at least two weeks.

The hospital has been designing and getting approvals for the repair work, Sharshan said.

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Concrete improvements are going on this week. On Monday, replacement steel will be brought in, he said.

Sharshan estimated the cost of the project at $200,000.

The helipad was built when a wing was added to the hospital in 1982, he said. There have been no major repairs to it since then, he added.

Each time a helicopter arrives at the Army Reserve Center, Community Rescue Service has an ambulance there to transport the patient between the landing site and the hospital.

The Hagerstown Fire Department sends a truck to stand by.

As of Wednesday afternoon, CRS had responded to 10 helicopter landings at the Army Reserve Center since the hospital pad closed, Assistant Chief Dave Hays said.

At about 5:30 p.m., a few hours after Hays spoke, another helicopter landed there.

Still, that's fewer than the ambulance squad prepared for. Hays said CRS was told to expect up to six landings a day.

Because of the added strain on the squad, Washington County Hospital is paying CRS to bring on an extra crew - one driver and one paramedic - as long as the helipad is closed, Hays said.

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