On Sunday morning at 5:45 am, we were awakened by the sounds of helicopters landing and taking off at Cottage Hospital. The helicopters continued that evening, with as many as three in the air hovering over the Oak Park neighborhood. On Monday evening, from 7 pm to 10 pm, the same. The helicopters were not following the path agreed on by the city and by our neighborhood group. They seemed to be flying at random. My husband, finally called the police and was told they were not police helicopters.
Only by reading (local news articles) did we discover that they may have been fire department helicopters in “training.” If they were, our neighborhood was never given the courtesy of a warning, nor were the helicopters obeying any kind of agreement. Further, there is no need to “train” in the early hours of a Sunday morning.
We long argued that the emergency helicopter landing pads should not be at this hospital, situated as it is in a dense urban neighborhood, but should instead have been located at Goleta Cottage Hospital, so obvious a choice as it is distant from neighborhoods, on a busy commercial street and not far from the airport. We will reinstate this argument if this kind of flagrant disregard for agreements made continues. We know that helicopters are especially dangerous. Several doctors at Cottage have mentioned this in passing to me. And we have seen an example in the recent accident that killed our local man, Mike DeGruy.
Meanwhile, we expect a full explanation, an apology, and a schedule for the future regarding any “training,” and how exactly Cottage plans to handle helicopter emergency landings and departures. And where exactly is the flight path. I hope this is taken very seriously.