There are plenty of places to land a helicopter in Chautauqua County during the day or when the weather is perfect.
Imagine, though, trying to land a helicopter in a dark field, in the middle of the night, unsure of the terrain beneath you. At the same time, you know someone is depending on you to get them quickly to a hospital.
These situations happen all too regularly for Medevac, Fireflight and the Jamestown Lifestar pilots. Sometime soon, they won't face such situations in the Stow and Ashville areas thanks to the Ashville Volunteer Fire Department. Department officials have received permission from the North Harmony Town Board and the town's Zoning Board to build a helicopter landing pad near the department's building in Stow, paid for through private donations and installed on vacant land behind the fire hall. The heliport is also proposed to have lighting installed around it as well for nighttime use. Department officials say the heliport could be open by the fall.
"There is a real need for it in this area. It's not just for Ashville or North Harmony, either, because it could potentially help to save the lives of residents from all over," said Bob Frederickson, Ashville Fire Department assistant chief.
Not only is the proposal for the Ashville Fire Department a good one, fire departments and town officials throughout the region should take note. Strategically placed landing pads can shave precious minutes from a patient's flight to a hospital. Landing pads are worth considering as part of the county's overall emergency management plans.