ELKHART — Plans for a helicopter landing pad at Elkhart General Hospital were approved by the Elkhart City Council Monday, Sept. 9, 2013.
The council voted 9-0 in favor of amending planning documents that will allow medical helicopters to land on top of a wing of the hospital that is part of a $76 million dollar expansion plan.
Hospital officials, who mentioned plans for the helicopter pad several months ago, provided an update on the plans.
Hospital president Greg Losasso said the plan still needs approval by several agencies including the Federal Aviation Administration and the Indiana Department of Transportation.
Losasso said they’ve kept neighbors abreast of the plan and that there was only one person who expressed concern.
Others in the neighborhood, he said, found the change a bit exciting.
Officials said the helicopter would not be stored locally and that it would be used to bring patients to the hospital and also to be transported to other hospitals.
Currently, if a patient needs to be transported immediately from Elkhart General, a helicopter is dispatched to the city airport and the patient is transported there by ambulance.
Use of the helicopter would emit very little emissions.
As for the sound, officials said the noise would range from 80 to 90 decibels and compared that to the siren sounds from ambulance, which are normally around 120 decibels.
Losasso said the proposed flight paths would include a south-to north path over McNaughton Park or along the St. Joseph River.
Additional lights would be needed as part of the landing pad, but that change is expected to be minimal since the pad would sit on top of a five story building. The proposal won support from various council members and David E. VanRyn, president of the Elkhart Emergency Physicians Inc.
No date was mentioned Monday on when the landing pad would be ready for use
The council also delayed a decision on an alley vacation request. The portion of alley runs between Okema Street and Waurika Street and another stretch that runs from West Franklin Street and Illinois Street.
The change is sought for a business.