Air ambulance lands on Rittler Field

Air ambulance lands on Rittler Field

Michele Ellson
Courtesy of Alameda Fire Department

A Calstar air ambulance picks up an injured patient Tuesday at Alameda Point. Photo courtesy of the Alameda Fire Department.

Alamedans who live near Rittler Field and others who happened to be passing by Thursday evening may have done a double take in order to process a surprising sight: a helicopter parked in a corner of the field, accompanied by a lineup of fire trucks and police cars.

A fire official said the helicopter was called in to transport an injured girl to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. Alameda Fire Captain Jim Colburn said the girl's injuries weren't life-threatening.

Colburn said the Alameda Fire Department got a call at 6:48 p.m. Thursday about a girl injured in her home, and that they arrived on scene three minutes later. Paramedics who arrived on the scene determined that an air ambulance would be the best way to transport her to the hospital. Stanford Life Flight, one of a handful of medical transport helicopter operations in the Bay Area, responded.

The field, he said, provided a safe landing spot, free of obstructions. Paramedics transported the girl in an ambulance from her home to the field.

Colburn said the department called for a similar helicopter transport two days ago at Alameda Point.

"We get these calls about once a year," he said. "We've had two in three days now."

But Rittler Field, he said, is a more high profile location.

"There's a ton of land. So it's a good place to land," Colburn said.

Transporting a patient to the hospital in San Jose by ambulance would have taken 30 to 40 minutes during a non-commute time, Colburn said. The helicopter flight takes about five minutes.

He said the helicopter needs about 1,000 square feet of space to land in; in addition to Alameda Point, the city's parks and even some of its major intersections could serve as landing areas if they're needed.

The department can transport a patient to one of these locations by ambulance quickly, he said.

"The city's not that huge," Colburn said. "It's not that far to drive."