Team says thanks for helipad

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A helicopter pad at Maniototo Hospital is just what the doctor ordered.

The helipad at Ranfurly’s Maniototo Hospital has been in place for well over a year, but an Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter crew recently dropped in to say thank you to those who had arranged it and raised the $70,000 required to build it.

Pilot and HeliOtago managing director Graeme Gale said it was an excellent facility, providing firm ground on which to land the rescue helicopter close to the hospital’s emergency department.

Most medical facilities in Otago and Southland now have a dedicated helipad.

Hospital general manager Geoff Foster said it was ‘‘a practical thing, not a thing of beauty’’, but did look impressive when lit up at night.

The $7 million, 29-bed Maniototo Hospital was opened in April last year.

The old hospital had an area of grass on which the helicopter landed.

The flying time for the rescue helicopter from Dunedin to Ranfurly is about 20 minutes, considerably faster than it takes an ambulance to drive the 130km distance.

The rescue helicopter undertook a record 1328 rescues across the lower South Island last year.

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