Chopper Does Test Flight at Buffalo General Hospital

March 21, 2011 Updated Mar 21, 2011 at 11:23 PM EDT

By Lou Chilelli

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March 21, 2011 Updated Mar 21, 2011 at 11:23 PM EDT


Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) -- A local hospital wants to be able to get it's patients in for treatment as fast as possible. But neighbors around Buffalo General want to know what they are in for, before they sign off on helicopters landing at the facility. Late Tuesday afternoon fog meant that most of the people gathered outside of Buffalo General Hospital did not see the chopper until it passed overhead. Kaleida Health wants to build a helipad on top of the 16 story tower of the main building.

This test flight was a chance for those in the area to gauge the level of noise. Ellicott District Councilman Darius Pridgen monitored the test with some area residents. "I was in an area over in Pilgrim Village, where the flight path was expected to come from and the residents there, seemed to think that the sound levels were tolerable. Their only concern was the amount of frequency that might occur," Pridgen said.

The concerns of residents in the neighborhood...seem to mostly be safety related. Alan Dobbs of Maple Street worries about changing weather conditions near Lake Erie, "It all depends on how the wind is going to be rolling around. Because you can't just land a helicopter with the wind coming off here because the lake and stuff...you don't know what's going to happen."

By this fall, the newly expanded emergency department will include a new heart and vascular care center. "Helipads across the country have become a natural extension of emergency departments. So, for us with the heart, stroke care that will be offered at this facility, it's a natural extension. If someone is having a stroke in Chautauqua County, someone is having a heart attack in Orleans County, they need emergent access to the ED. This is one way that we can provide that type of care," explains Michael P. Hughes, spokesman for Kaleida Health.

Kaledia officials say they want their neighbors to be kept apprized of changes coming to the quickly developing medical corridor. "In this day and age, people expect to you to be transparent. We are a not for profit organization. We are owned by the community...so from the perspective...you know it's the right thing to do. The community deserves to be heard," Hughes added.

A vote on whether or not to approve the helipad was expected to take place at the next city council meeting....but it looks like that vote won't take place until the April fifth session.