Friday, January 19, 2018

Helicopter downdraft creates problem for Hardin resident

Hardin resident Delmar Morrison has a problem and that problem has rotors. His difficulty lies with the St. Vincent Healthcare’s new, bigger HELP Flight helicopter, a 2007 Eurocopter 135 P2+, and the downdraft created when it lands in the city limits at Big Horn County Memorial Hospital. 
“And they’re low coming down,” he said during last Tuesday's meeting of the Hardin City Council.
Posts for the fence on a nearby blacktop, he said, have already been moved by the rotor wash at least two inches.
“I had Dish Network come in to change my satellite system. They put it on the helicopter side; that’s the only place they could put it,” he said. “If that helicopter comes in and blows my roof off, is the city going to pay for it?”
According to St. Vincent’s Chief Flight Nurse Chad Cady, if damage believed to be a result of the helicopter were to occur, a resident could contact his hospital, who would investigate the incident.
Big Horn County Hospital’s previously-stated reason for having the HELP Flight land in Hardin city limits rather than at an airport, Morrison said, was that the old location – the Fairgrounds Air Park – was near the railroad tracks and a train could block the helicopter. The new airport is in a field along Vanzandt Road, located miles from the railroad, but also miles from the Big Horn hospital, whose representative was unavailable for comment at press time.
Alderman Karen Molina, bailiff and paper server for Big Horn County, said there have been times when it took the hospital up to two hours to prepare patients to be airlifted. An extra step with an ambulance, she said, could lead to a fatality.
“You’re talking about moving a patient several times,” she said.
“Move the helicopter to a safer place,” Morrison insisted.
Hardin Mayor Jack Lane, after speaking to City Attorney Robert Snively, asked that Morrison contact the Federal Aviation Administration to speak with them about the helicopter. 
According to Snively, the city should “stay out” of dictating a spot for the helicopter, saying, ‘If we approve a spot and there’s a crash…”
In addition to his reservations with the helicopter, Morrison said he was “about ready to throw some nails” in the area to stop reckless driving. The possibility of a noise ordinance was discussed, though Molina said their previous attempt at “jake brake” regulations turned out to be against state law.
“You can’t get these people to slow down,” Morrison said.
“I can’t,” Lane answered, “but I think law enforcement can.”
Finally, the council discussed animal control issues.
“I can bring you a whole family of pit bulls,” Morrison said. “One of them is on a three-foot chain.”
According to Morrison, his wife ran into a pit bull while taking out the garbage and when he talked to the dog’s owner, he said, “I’m on the reservation.”
A man sitting next to Morrison said people were leaving dogs out in their yards and ignoring them. Deputies from the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office did talk to the owners, he said, but he didn’t think they could do much else.
“They could ticket them,” Lane suggested.
The next city council meeting is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20.