Helipad 'best for now': Gibson
GYMPIE'S soon-to-be commissioned emergency helipad is not ideal, but is the best achievable option at this stage, Gympie MP David Gibson said yesterday.
Mr Gibson said the previous helipad site near the Gympie Hospital car park could not be used because it did not meet safety guidelines enforced by the federal Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
"It's too low to be used in such close proximity to powerlines," he said.
"The ideal solution would be a covered car park at that site and a helipad on the roof, above the powerlines," but that was ruled out when the decision was made, under a previous government, to develop the facility at Archery Park.
"I think everyone realises it is not the perfect solution.
"I appreciate that if you need a helicopter to get you to Brisbane, you want to be in a helicopter going to Brisbane.
"You don't want to be in an ambulance going to Archery Park, then changing to a helicopter going to Brisbane.
"The site meets all the safety requirements and has two big lights and a beacon to guide them in.
"It's a lot better than landing on the grass (elsewhere in the park).
"I've seen some ambulance drivers having to be awfully careful there in wet weather.
"It goes under in floods, but the good side of that is that the same floods shut down vehicle traffic and helicopters can then land on the highway (while still keeping the required distance from powerlines).
"They haven't been able to land at Gympie Hospital for years now," he said.
Mr Gibson said the long processes of land acquisition, government approvals and construction planning meant that arrangements for the project were well advanced before the election.
The $425,000 helipad is now almost complete and will soon be in operation.