Air ambulance access improvement at Cobden

Published on 15 June 2022

Cobden Aerodrome transfer pad taxiway_Web size.jpg

Another important link has been completed to help get emergency patients to medical treatment.

A taxiway has been sealed between the main airstrip at Cobden Aerodrome and the air ambulance transfer pad.

The taxiway is 65 m long and 10.5 m wide with an approximate rehabilitation area of about 701 m2.

It was funded by $50,000 from Council and $24,000 from the Cobden Aerodrome Community Asset Committee.

Manager Works Peter Rogers said the latest work built on the transfer pad which was installed in 2020.

“Both of these projects collectively provide a safe and accessible thoroughfare for the HEMS 4 Air Ambulance to the transfer pad,” he said.

“The transfer pad provides an important hard stand for the transfer of patients from patient transport or ambulance to the air ambulance.

“Patients who require air lifting to metropolitan or regional hospitals can be moved seamlessly from the ambulance to the chopper.”

Councillor representative to the aerodrome committee, Cr Jo Beard, said the project had a lot of community participation and was developed in partnership with Air Ambulance Victoria and the HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Services) 4 Base Manager and pilot Dan Guillaumier.

“In 2019 the Cobden aerodrome committee secured $30,000 through the State Government’s Pick My Project program,” Cr Beard said.

“People across the state were asked to submit ideas for improving their local communities, then vote for their favourite three ideas.

“The Cobden and district community voted for the transfer pad and the construction was completed in January 2020.

“It was a great example of local volunteers using their initiative for the benefit of the community. Then voters got behind them in support of a fantastic project.

“This facility continues to be an important community asset again being a strategic location for emergency response. Usage is only increasing which certainly proves its worth.”

Committee Chairman Duncan Morris said he was very pleased with the two-stage project.

“The taxiway is an excellent addition to the facility. It allows paramedics to get to the aircraft safely, do the transfer and take off again,” he said.

“It was obvious it needed to be done. You’ve got to be very careful with a gravel strip, particularly with helicopters because the downforce blows the gravel up.

“A lot of the credit goes to committee member and Aerodrome Reporting Officer Warren Ponting for pushing along the whole Pick my Project process.”

The community is invited to the official opening at 10 am, Saturday 9 July, and Captain Guillaumier said HEMS4 planned to attend.

“The only reason we won’t go is if we’re tasked to go get a job.

“We’ll let everyone have a look at the helicopter with the proviso that if the phone rings - we gotta go!”

Captain Guillaumier was the aviation liaison who helped the committee plan the improvements.

“They saw the need and they contacted us for information about how to put together that transfer pad,” he said.

“There wasn’t a lot of room for us to land at the airfield without impacting other aircraft and buildings there.

“The real use of that transfer pad for us is the winter time. Our normal operations will end up landing on football ovals or in paddocks. In winter you can’t even get a car across them, let alone landing a 7-tonne helicopter on them.

“A place like Cobden is perfect for us to service the whole region, right into the Otways.”