State Approves Plan Allowing San Francisco to Study Feasibility of Building an Air Ambulance Pad
With San Francisco as the only major U.S. city without a licensed and approved air ambulance landing pad, California has given permission to the city to study the feasibility of constructing a landing site, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Because the city is surrounded on three sides by water and only accessible by bridge from the north and east, critically injured patients must be flown to San Francisco International Airport and driven "over busy city streets" to the city's only trauma center, at San Francisco General Hospital. The Chronicle reports that the need to remedy such an "embarrassing" situation became "obvious" during the 1989 earthquake. Although feasibility studies were conducted after the earthquake, neighborhood activists voiced opposition to a landing pad. Dr. John Brown of the San Francisco Public Health Department said, "There was very negative community response. As a result, the political appetite for having an argument with a lot of neighborhood groups hasn't been there." Now, the San Francisco Medical Air Access Project is proposing constructing two landing pads, one at San Francisco General and another at the old Public Health Hospital. Dr. Robert Mackersie, director of trauma services at San Francisco General, said that building a landing pad at the hospital would cost about $1 million, and the state has given the group permission to conduct another feasibility study. Although such a study would only be the "first step" toward establishing a landing pad in the city, Mackersie said, "Post Sept. 11, the tenor of the discussion has changed" (Wellman, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.