Kaweah Health has one of the busiest emergency departments in the state and is the only level III trauma center in Tulare and Kings counties. Prior to the helipad’s inception, critically-ill patients that needed to be airlifted were transferred by ambulance to the Visalia Airport. Today, patients can be brought in or transferred directly from the helipad in life-saving minutes.
The first flight landed on June 6, 2013. Within the first year of the helipad’s launch, 120 flights were taken to provide immediate care for patients. Since then, the helipad has helped transport more than 2,600 patients in Tulare County.
“We knew that having a helipad on-site would reduce transportation time, greatly improving a patient’s outcome within the golden hour,” said Gary Herbst, Kaweah Health’s Chief Executive Officer.
The “golden hour” refers to the first hour immediately after a traumatic injury during which patients who receive prompt medical care have the best chance for survival. Air transport allows patients to receive definitive care much sooner, reducing transportation time to as much as 65%.
“Celebrating 10 years of this helipad is just one example of the amazing things we do here at Kaweah Health. As our community continues to grow, the number of patients we see in the Emergency Department increases. On average, we see nearly 300 patients per day for emergent care. It astounds me how fast we can move patients through the ED and the amazing care that is delivered, ” said Emergency Medicine physician, Khoa Tu, MD.
The $2.7 million helipad was greatly funded by the generous community donations given to the Kaweah Health Foundation.
“I’m so proud to have contributed to the creation of the helipad. Access to healthcare is so important, and the services provided at Kaweah Health through the helipad have saved countless lives,” said Amy Shuklian, Tulare County Supervisor representing District 3.