LAMPASAS — Rollins Brook Community Hospital inaugurated its new helicopter landing pad Wednesday afternoon with a landing demonstration and open house for hospital staff and community members.
A helicopter that landed on the pad circled the hospital before touching down, stirring up a cloud of dust and grass as the crowd applauded.
“If someone needed to be transported with Air Evac, it had to be done through multiple services,” said Carlyle Walton, president of the Metroplex Health System, in an address to the crowd. “Time can save someone’s life. ... If all this does for one person is save their life, it’s worth it.”
The $37,000 landing pad project was funded through private donations and state funding, a news release stated.
Trauma coordinator Heidi Lavka spearheaded the movement to build a helipad at Rollins Brook.
“We’re a small hospital and we don’t have the specialized care bigger hospitals do,” Lavka said. “This affords us the opportunity to take a patient to higher care.”
Driving, it can take an hour or more to get a patient to more specialized hospitals in Temple or Austin, Lavka said. With the helicopter available, the time can be cut to 20 to 25 minutes.
Lavka said the landing pad was something she and other hospital staff had “dreamed about” for 4½ years. The project broke ground in early December, after the facility gained approval from the Lampasas fire marshal and Federal Aviation Administration.
“Heidi, if she wants to get something done, you run away and hide or you do it,” Walton said. “I’m not one to run away.”
Air Evac Lifeteam provides helicopters for six facilities, including Lampasas, from its Killeen base.
“This is going to be a huge benefit,” said Fred Gray, program director for Air Evac Lifeteam. “It will expedite transportation and make it so much better.”