Helicopter testing at Cottage Hospital's new landing pad.
Paul Wellman

Santa Barbara County Fire on Wednesday made two trial helicopter landings at Cottage Hospital’s new helipad. Indy staff photographer Paul Wellman was there to capture both approaches with still images and video.

The landing pad sits atop one of the hospital’s new patient pavilions, which are set to open next month. Cottage is contracted with CALSTAR (California Shock Trauma Air Rescue) to transport patients in and out of the Level II Trauma Center, but is talking with other air ambulance companies as well.

Helicopters, said a hospital spokesperson, follow a specified flight path along Highway 101 and over Junipero Street to disturb as few nearby residents as possible. The helipad is expected to be fully operational by mid February.

Captain David Sadecki with County Fire said the new landing site eliminates the need for rescue choppers to touch down on La Cumbre Junior High School’s field before patients can be transported by ambulance to the hospital. County Fire Hueys — equipped with a hoist, night vision goggles, and other life-saving gadgets — are staffed with firefighters and paramedics who can perform ocean, swift water, cliff, and mountain rescues.


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