Unlike most other trauma hospitals in Australia where the helipad sits on top of the building, The Alfred’s was built as a bridge over a major metropolitan road. Its position is unique, specifically chosen for a number of key reasons including its protection from extreme weather conditions, the angle of landing allowed by the adjacent Fawkner Park, vehicle access from the road below and the speed of access to get patients inside to resuscitation areas.
In 1988 when the helipad was commissioned, it formed part of the development of The Alfred Trauma Centre, Australia’s first ever dedicated trauma centre. Although it may look to the average person like a simple concrete bridge over a road, the helipad is so much more. As one of only two landing pads for the state’s most critical adult patients, and the only trauma hospital landing pad that can take patients in all weather conditions, it is a specialised and critical piece of infrastructure for all Victorians.
An extraordinary engineering accomplishment, the helipad was designed and built to hold up to four helicopters at the same time (more than any other hospital helipad in Victoria) so it could support mass emergency situations. One third of a century ago the $18 million cost was a huge investment but one that has saved many lives.
However, to ensure it remains the best possible ‘front door’ for critically ill patients, important upgrades are required. Improvements will assist pilots in achieving a safer approach and landing, provide better patient transfers to and from the aircraft and enable pilots to perform essential pre-flight aircraft inspections and emergency aircraft maintenance at night.