Helicopter landing pad means better chance for patient survival

A HALO-Flight helicopter comes in for the first landing at a new pad near the corner of U.S. Highway 181 and North Street in Pettus Feb. 26. The pad, which provides a dedicated landing zone for medical transport helicopters, is the first one in Northern Bee County.

PETTUS – Patients from northern Bee County who are in need of immediate care now will receive that attention in less time thanks to a new helicopter pad established here near the corner of North Street and U.S. Highway 181. 

Lester Kissee, president of the Pettus Volunteer Fire Department, said talk of installing a pad started 15 years ago but did not materialize until he asked to spearhead the project last year.

“They authorized me to get it done,” Kissee said.

Then it became a community project. Beck Brothers Construction donated base material. The Bee County Road and Bridge Department poured the overlay that was donated by the Pettus, Tuleta and Normanna volunteer fire departments. Angel Care EMS also assisted with the project, Kissee said.

The property, located just  east of the Pettus Independent School District site, is owned by the Pettus Municipal Utility District. 

With the establishment of the landing pad, fire departments and EMS crews now will have a safe, dedicated place for medical transport helicopters – such as HALO-Flight – to takeoff and land. The location will be searchable by GPS units on board, meaning quicker times shuttling patients to the major trauma centers in Victoria, Corups Christi and San Antonio.

“Before this, we either had to shut down the highway and land in the middle of the road or land in the lot where the trucks park across from (the Valero station near Farm-to-Market Road 623),” Kissee said.

For patients, having helicopter pads in north Bee County and at the Christus Spohn Hospital in Beeville will mean an increased likelihood of reaching care within what is known as the “golden hour” – in which there is decreased risk of complications or death, said Katrina Garcia of the trauma program at Christus Spohn Shoreline Hospital in Corpus Christi. Spohn Shoreline is a Level 2 trauma center, serving 12 area counties. University Hospital and the San Antonio Military Medical Center, both in San Antonio, are the nearest Level 1 trauma centers.

“For any patient involved in a major trauma, the golden hour is the time to get them to a trauma center to receive the most appropriate care to ensure the best possible outcome for whatever injury,” Garcia said.