Noisy neighbors

By By Natalie Hale

By Natalie Hale

AirMed, University Hospital’s helicopter transport provider, is temporarily moving its location from the hospital’s northeast parking terrace to an area east of the Residence Halls.

The AirMed helicopter pad is currently situated on top of the northeast helipad parking terrace, but the structure will be under construction for the addition of four levels of parking, which will create approximately 200 new stalls for patients and their families.

The move will take place in the middle of October, and AirMed will remain at the temporary location for approximately six to eight months.

Ten sites were examined surrounding the hospital as potential areas for the relocation, said Ken Matthews, AirMed’s chief flight nurse and program director.

AirMed determined the RV park located directly east of the Residence Halls was the optimal site because it is large, relatively flat and far from the mountains.

Jason Brown, an AirMed pilot, said that in a business where seconds count when it comes to the survival of a patient, it was crucial that the location be as close to the hospital as possible.

“Our first concern is what is best for the patient; the second is the safest area for the helicopters to land,” Matthews said.

AirMed has six helicopters but has agreed to keep only one on the temporary pad, storing the remaining five at the Salt Lake City International Airport to not disturb students too much.

During an independent sound analysis conducted during test landings in August, the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health received mixed messages from students.

Steve Nygaard, director of Housing and Residential Education, said that a student whose window faces the temporary landing pad slept through the entire test, while others nearby reported the noise for the test landings was significant.

“I don’t think that students in the residence halls are being treated fairly,” said Lis Cohen, a doctorate student in meteorology who lives in the Shoreline Ridge apartments. “We won’t be as comfortable with helicopters flying at all hours, and as far as I know, we are not being compensated in any way for this inconvenience.”

“The full impact of the temporary relocation will obviously not be known until it occurs in October. AirMed estimates that it can cut the number of flights by more than 40 percent,” Nygaard said.

“Housing and Residential Education is working with AirMed to reduce the negative consequences to residents as much as possible, recognizing that each time the aircraft takes off and lands, it is literally a life-and-death situation,” he said.

“In my opinion, there is nothing we can do about it, so I am trying not to let it bother me,” said Jessica Simmons, a resident and community adviser for one of the Shoreline Ridge buildings.