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Letter to the Editor: Helicopters in Santa Barbara

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.

16 Responses to “Letter to the Editor: Helicopters in Santa Barbara”

  1. el_smurfo

    This letter should begin “Dear Edhat”, because the level of entitlement and whining seems more their target audience. The heliport has just opened, there will naturally be training runs for a while and the occasional emergency flight…sure, a little notice might have been more neighborly, but demanding “full explanations and a full apology” is just plain over the top. They have been landing at GVCH and La Cumbre JH for years and I have never heard so many people who have “caught the vapors” over this issue. I assume you will take full responsibility for the lawsuits when a patient dies because they are flying 5 minutes out of their way to avoid your house?

    • There are three separate threads hyperventilating about this at Edhat.

  2. It was terrible last night as well. I believe they started around 9pm and it was constant back and forth flying. I heard them lying awake in bed from 10:30pm until I was finally able to fall asleep at midnight. They woke me at 6:00am as well. When you live blocks from the hospital, it feels like they are about to land on your roof. It seems very unreasonable. Notice would have been nice. I could have taken a sleeping pill.

  3. Anonymous

    Helicopter flights were never allowed here until Cottage built this mega-hospital in a residential neighborhood. The letter writer brings up serious and legitimate concerns about safety issue and the stress of suddenly living in a flight path where there was none before. These concerns were always dismissed during the planning process, and these neighbors have a right to know whether the past few nights were an exception, or if this is what they can expect from now on.

  4. KnockKnock

    Mommy, mommy where do helicopter parents come from when babies are born at Cottage Hospital?

  5. No hussein obama 2012

    Its just another sign of our society when the answer is to DEMAND, BLAME and then TAKE A DRUG. then there are those that need to realize that when this hospital was built there was nothing but dirt roads up there and the community complained that it was to far away. so S. B. grew and to better serve us the hospital also grew. people chose to build housing next to the hospital and people choose to move there. please move somewhere else if you don’t like it, as I would bet the hospital was here before you and I really dont want some new fed study or sb study spending money on whiny crap. LA WILL TAKE YOU BACK.

  6. hey guess what, Cottage officially said it was 3 CalSTAR emergency transports (real emergencies), and two LA-based choppers to pick up patients that didn’t follow protocol, so that’s why they were hovering around for so long.

    why should they land at Cottage and not GV? because GV is, by comparison, a tiny satellite hospital and Cottage is a full Level II Trauma Center. I also hope you NIMBYs are OK with getting sued when someone dies because they had to be driven from a remote location in exchange for not having a helipad right on top of the hospital.

    the poster above me is correct in that Cottage was here before you and your neighborhood, and will still be here long after you’re gone. they put that helipad there to increase quality of patient care, nothing else. whining about it is pretty low. noise? buy earplugs. dangerous? please, small planes are just as dangerous and both fly over the city (looking at you, SBSO) all the time. you’re more likely to have a drunk plow his BMW into your house than a CalSTAR chopper fall from the sky onto it.

  7. Love this entitlement. Without the helipad, emergency air lifts would have to arrange a landing in an open space (usually a school, unload onto an ambulance, and then be transported to a hospital. It easily adds 5-10 minutes to getting to the hospital, which during a life or death emergency can easily spell death. Like it or not, we have a large need for medical care in SB, with our sprawled out population in South county, increasing traffic over the 101 and 154, and less and less regard by motorists over simple safety laws (such as a 55 mph around Gaviota pass that people drive 75 through, or the 154), and a large forest which is frequented by hikers, backpackers and campers, SB plays an important role in urgent care.

  8. Annonymous

    Some clarity: the helicopters on Tuesday night over Oak Park were due to patients being transported out of the hospital at the same time other helicopters were bringing patients in. Also, according to the Independent, the helicopters waiting to land hovered for so long they had to travel over to the airport to refuel.
    It is surprising to see the comments that say the residents of the neighborhood should man it up and/or accuse us of NIMBY. I can only suggest (a) you should try living with the hospital’s construction for the last ten years (b) you can’t imagine what the level of noise and confusion was like, and finally, if you think that no one should criticize a well-regarded institution, what kind of democracy do you live in?

    • NOPE n blurry

      Yes I can, I worked there and was one of those noisy guys making a living and bettering
      the community for all. find another way to vent all your pent up hate and frustration, not watching msnbc or cnn. and I say that is from the independent also. yup

  9. Jurie Prue

    Property owner/occupier rights diminish when they voluntarily move to the existing nuisance.

    • Does that mean Cottage Hospital’s rights to use the helipad should be diminished since they voluntarily built a helipad in the middle of the NIMBYist city in the county?

  10. They should have a opt-out sheet at Monday’s Helicopter Cottage meeting. You can opt-out of any future emergency needs for you or your family. See how that goes, eh? ( I predict few signatures )