ASHVILLE - The town of North Harmony will discuss whether to install a heliport at its monthly zoning meeting Wednesday.
According to the North Harmony Zoning Board agenda, the Ashville Fire District has requested a special permit to construct a heliport for landing emergency service helicopters at the Ashville Fire Department located at 5338 Stow Road, Ashville.
''(Not having) a (heliport) is a real safety issue,'' said Chief Robert Fredrickson of the Ashville Fire Department. ''It gives the people from the Medevac, Fireflight and the Jamestown Lifestar a reliable place that they can land that is going to be marked. It will be in a secure area that will be maintained year-round, so it has real potential to help the residents of (North Harmony).
''They'll have a place they know they can get to and get out of without a problem. So if it goes through, it will be a real asset,'' continued Fredrickson. ''Something like this will increase the chance of survival for a victim suffering something like a stroke, rather than transporting them by ground. No matter what the circumstances, medical services available by flight will always be faster than medical services available by ground.''
During the summer when conditions are ideal, there are many locations near the Ashville Fire Department where a helicopter could land. However, during times of poor weather in the summer, or at really any point in the winter, landing on simple ground could cause serious problems for emergency workers.
''This time of year, they can land just about anywhere, but in the winter it's absolutely impossible,'' said Fredrickson. ''If this goes in, (emergency personnel) have a spot they know they can rely upon. It's so much better than landing in a field somewhere, especially in the dark or in uncertain conditions.''
According to Fredrickson, a majority of the funds for the construction of the heliport have come through donations, and the land which the heliport will be built upon, if approved on Wednesday, was donated as well.
''As far as raising money, we've had a few really big donations,'' said Fredrickson. ''The biggest donation came from the Gebbie Foundation. Right now we're at about $22,000, but we need a little bit more for proper lighting.''
The North Harmony Zoning Board meets Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., at the North Harmony Town Hall. The public is welcomed to attend.
For more information on the zoning meeting, call 789-3445.
If interested in donating to the Ashville Fire Department heliport, call 499-2599.