The New Year got off to a perilous start at University Hospital in Avondale, a Cincinnati neighborhood.
A medevac helicopter from Kentucky – attempting to take off around 6 a.m. New Year’s Day – abruptly slammed into the top-floor helipad atop University Hospital, just floors above the emergency department, said Liz Matern, a nursing supervisor at the hospital.
The yellow and black helicopter, not owned or leased by the Health Alliance, the parent organization that operates University Hospital, was dropping off a patient from “somewhere down in Kentucky” when a gust of wind forced the helicopter back down on the concrete pavement located on the hospital’s roof, about six stories in the air.
Around noon, the black tail boom of the helicopter – with the cabin, or main body of the aircraft, resting against a steel beam on the edge of the heliport – still dangled off the edge of the hospital just above the same place that ambulances bring patients to the emergency department.
“That’s 2,000 pounds of jet fuel over my emergency department,” Matern said. “A wind gust just blew them down on the pad.”
Matern said that ambulances were notified through their dispatchers and temporarily diverted to the hospital’s front doors. There a hospital security officer met the rescue personnel and directed them through the building to the emergency department.
University’s emergency department is the Greater Cincinnati area’s only level one trauma center, considered to be best equipped to handle the most serious medical emergencies including car accident, stabbing and shooting victims, among other maladies.
“We never stopped taking patients,” Matern said. “We had to divert our traffic.”
Hospital officials notified the Cincinnati Fire Department who responded to the scene and secured the helicopter to the building so it would not fall. Firefighters were working to determine the best way to move the helicopter back on top of the building, Matern said.
“They are there to supervise (the scene),” Matern said. “They are trying to move it in so the whole thing is on the heliport.”
No patient was in the helicopter and the crew members inside at the time of the crash were not injured, she said.
This is the second incident for University Hospital’s medevac program in two days. Monday afternoon an AirCare helicopter, operated by the hospital, was forced to do an emergency landing near the Grand Victoria Casino in Rising Sun, Ind. after it experienced mechanical problems. A patient inside the helicopter was transferred to an ambulance and transported to University Hospital.
“It was just a little rougher landing than we are used to,” Matern said.
Click on the above photo to see more images from the scene.