Crosby’s flight path helipad keeps busy

It was more than seven years ago that Christy Graves, Director of Operations/EMS Chief of Crosby, began describing why a Heliport and Digital Flight Path would be needed for Crosby. Now other rescue services are using the rescue helicopter base and approved travel route for helicopters to fly to hospitals.

The amount of Life Flight out of our area has increased dramatically. Forty seven Life Flight requests with 54 patients flown from January 1, 2019 until December 1. Twenty eight from June 1 until September 1 (90 days of Summer.) Sixteen Life flights flew from September 1 until December 1. Statistically, each year there is a spiral increase.

All the plans and infrastructure became a reality recently as the the F.A.A. and N.T.S.B. approved flight path was finally completed and incorporated into the Harris County rescue program last year, just in time to be used for a patient of Dayton. Their ambulance crews became the first to use the helipad and flight path that can be used in bad visibility.

One factor that made it necessary for the area was that sea fog frequently nestles in lowlands and obscures where even a brightly lit low lying area is from helicopter height. Additionally, recent wrecks on Interstate 10 and US 90 would indicate that roadways can be blocked during inclement weather and flooding.

According to Christie Graves, “The idea first came up when I was talking with a former supervisor of mine about how many times I had been turned down for Life Flight because we lacked weather stations and things like that here. We looked into putting in weather station radars, they are about $30, 000 to $60,000 apiece that was financially extravagant. The next year I went to Terry Dunham and inquired if he had GPS instrumentation and what kind of flight equipment he had but we determined that he didn’t want that kind of business interruption going on and a lot of ambulances coming and going. Going into the third year, I had been declined for Life Flight when the cases were critical and I asked the Fire Chief if he would go to his board and grant us the property to install the helipad. The Fire Department had the most ideal location and Chief Kulak came back and said ‘We are going to do one better we are going to pay for half of it.’”

Back in 2015, Harris County Emergency Service District #80, and Harris County Emergency Service District #5 the taxing entities for Crosby Volunteer Fire Dept., and for the ambulance service respectively put together the funding to build the heliport that is now capable of handling a helicopter guided by the digital flightpath.

“It was approved for the location near US 90 and availability to the area. It is real estate into the air owned by Crosby. Hospitals have built their roadways in the sky and now a I-610 in the sky is being built to route to varied emergency centers,” said Graves.