Prince Rupert based air ambulances are getting night vision. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Night vision for Rupert’s air ambulances

Night vision goggles will help reduce risks for air ambulance pilots on the North Coast

Between Prince Rupert and Vancouver, there are three helicopters suited for transporting patients under the B.C. Ambulance Service requirements. This month, a North Coast-based helicopter is the latest to be converted for compatibility with night vision goggles.

“It really enhances the safety of flying at night,” said Steven Morrow, one of the air ambulance pilots at the Helijet base in Prince Rupert.

The goggles, Morrow said, look like a small set of binoculars that attach to the pilot’s helmet. A pilot can see through them, but there’s enough room to look down at the cockpit.

“It’s a dark hole out there. ‘Night flight black hole’ is actually a term used for the dangers of flying at night. You leave Prince Rupert, it’s completely dark. You don’t see anything unless the moon is out and there’s no cloud — and that doesn’t happen too often around here.”

Before the installation of night vision technology, pilots had to fly at night by designated routes, and take cloud ceiling limitations into consideration.

“That means we’re 1,000 feet above any obstacle within three miles on either side of our track. Because it’s dark out there and you can’t see things, you’re assured you’re in a safe area if you’re on that track and you’re going to a destination.”

Morrow, who has more than 27 years of experience flying as an air ambulance pilot, said that once the helicopter returns to Prince Rupert, the pilots will undergo training with the new equipment. It may be four months before the newly-equipped helicopter is operational, Morrow said.

READ MORE: HEART OF OUR CITY – LOGGER TO PILOT, A WEST COAST DREAM

“Once we’ve reached that advanced level of experience, then we can actually bring that altitude down. Our weather requirements won’t be so stringent at night to be able to go flying,” he said.

The impact of the new equipment won’t be known until Helijet has used it for a while, but Morrow said it may allow them to go to new destinations during night routes.

In the meantime, Prince Rupert will use one of their older models, which features the same air ambulance kit. The night vision conversion comes six years after Vancouver and Prince Rupert upgraded their helicopters to the newer model of the Sikorsky 76C, which gave them more power, to stay up-to-date with their B.C. Air Ambulance Service contract.


 


keili.bartlett@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hospice is concerned COVID-19 is silencing grief

P.R. Hospice Society is available for end of life compassion and comfort during grief - upon request

$80 million gas pipeline upgrade project proposed by PNG

Gas pipeline upgrades needed from Salvus to Port Edward near Prince Rupert

Brucejack mine fatality identified

Patrick Critch was from Newfoundland

Heart of Our City – Krysta Ostrom

Fourth generation of family to give heart to Prince Rupert

Pretivm Resources reports fatality at Brucejack mine

The isolated incident occurred last Friday, and the employee passed away on Sunday in hospital

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Canucks blank Wild 3-0, take series lead in penalty-filled NHL qualifying clash

Jacob Markstrom stops 27 shots to lead Vancouver past Minnesota

North Okanagan man chains himself to tree in protest of construction

Crews began work clearing space for a new facility Thursday, Aug. 6

Most Read