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

Night vision for North Coast air ambulances

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

For Haida Gwaii and the North Coast, there are three helicopters suited for transporting patients under the B.C. Ambulance Service requirements. This month, they are 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.

“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, the Prince Rupert base 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.

Just Posted

Council briefs: The Village of Queen Charlotte

More money for village in third-quarter, new equitable gift giving policy

William Griffin arrested in Houston homicide

RCMP have now arrested William Griffin, the man wanted in connection to… Continue reading

Family of Terrace man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Coast Mountain College’s indigenization efforts recognized at international symposium

Collaboration and community are key to Indigenous reconciliation in education, CMTN says

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Most Read