June 12, 2014
The first operational helipad in Tulare County surpassed the
number of landings anticipated in its first year with nearly a third of those
bringing patients to Kaweah Delta Medical Center for life-saving care.
Kaweah Delta Medical Center’s helipad received 183 helicopter
landings in its first year; 51 of which brought patients to the hospital for
care, while 132 transferred patients out of the area to receive a higher level
One of the first inbound flights since the helipad became
operation on June 3, 2013, brought Pete Atkins, of Escondido, to Kaweah Delta
after he was injured on a horse packing trip in a remote area between Tulare
and Inyo counties inaccessible by car.
“I fell on my right shoulder, my elbow jammed into my rib
cage and I heard my bones crack,” Atkins said. “If it wasn’t for that
helicopter, I think I would have bought the farm. It’s a fact that because
there was a helipad I was able to get care and attention much more rapidly.”
At the time, Atkins couldn’t walk and couldn’t get on his
horse. His guide came to the rescue riding north until he got to a ranger
station where he radioed for help. Not long after, SkyLife’s helicopter landed
and Atkins was carried onboard. In 26 minutes, Atkins was at Kaweah Delta.
The $2.7 million helipad was completed with help from $2.3
million in community donations made to the Kaweah Delta Hospital Foundation. It
plays a key role in helping Kaweah Delta, the only trauma center between Fresno
and Bakersfield. Since the designation in 2011, the number of trauma patients
has increased over 200 percent to over 1,000 trauma patients each year.
Dr. Nichole Meissner, Director of Trauma at Kaweah Delta
said, “The helipad has had far reaching effects for the region. It’s helped trauma
victims get treatment faster and treatment in the first hour has a significant
impact on survival, especially when it comes to trauma.”
Kaweah Delta is a 581-bed district and is the only trauma
center between Fresno and Bakersfield. For more
information, visit www.kaweahdelta.org.