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Titus Mountain adding helipad for emergency responses

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MALONE — A LifeNet helicopter now will be available for skiers who suffer a life-threatening injury while at Titus Mountain Family Ski Center, 215 Johnson Road.

“The helicopter will be manned with a paramedic, a nurse and a pilot,” said Doug Yando, coordinator of the ski patrol program at Titus Mountain. “It’s basically an (Intensive Care Unit) in the air.”

Mr. Yando said that once the patient is in the helicopter, the crew will decide which hospital to fly to — be it Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington, Vt., or a different facility. LifeNet will operate from its base in Potsdam and can respond in 15 minutes, Mr. Yando said.

Zach White, general manager of Titus Mountain, is working with his crew to build a helicopter pad as part of the new parking lot expansion at the base of the lower mountain, Mr. Yando said.

“LifeNet of New York offers an onboard formulary of almost 80 different medications, invasive monitoring, critical care mechanical ventilation, equipment to perform definitive airway management, surgical procedures, obstetrical dopplers, therapeutic hypothermia supplies and the cyanide toxicity antidote,” according to a LifeNet news release.

Mr. Yando said that ski patrol still will be around and will have a fully equipped medical center with beds at both the top and bottom of the mountain. There will be six or seven ski patrol members at the mountain per day, he said.

One helicopter will be in place, parallel to the ski patrol building, for Oktoberfest on Saturday, Mr. Yando said. The flight crew also will be on hand.

Mr. Yando said that every year, there are a few life-threatening situations on the mountain, such as heart attacks.

Patients flown by LifeNet will have their insurance billed, Mr. Yando said, but those who don’t have insurance still will be served. “No one’s turned down,” he said.

Mr. Yando said ski patrol employees will be trained on what “is expected of us” when LifeNet is called into play.

Ski Patrol Director Gordon Halley said a protocol will be established between the ski patrol and the mountain management team before implementing the service.

Mr. Yando said the helicopter service was looked into last year, but because the ski area was unable to place a helicopter pad across from the ski patrol lodge, the move was postponed.

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