Covering Tallapoosa County: Union Residents Construct Helipad for Medics

Union, Al. (WSFA) -- Lake Martin.  Called by many residents and visitors a "rural paradise," far away from the bustle of city life.

When an emergency hits, however, that distance can mean the difference between life and death.

"Anytime you've got boats and people on the water, there's a potential for accidents," explained Lt. Mitford Fontaine of the Alabama Marine Police.

Miles of pristine water makes Lake Martin a boating hotspot during the summer, but with the fun comes risk.

When you're miles away from the nearest hospital, a severe emergency calls for help from above..

"It actually makes that golden hour more accessible to the patients as far as getting them to a facility in that time frame," Fontaine said.

Here lies a problem.   Pilots of rescue helicopters have a hard time finding places to land, dodging power lines and wooded areas.

Developer Brian Ray sought to fix the problem, creating a helipad that flight crews could use in case a patient needed to be airlifted during an emergency.

"We wanted a known destination where they could hit it in their GPS and it wouldn't be an issue," Ray said.

Wednesday, at a ribbon cutting ceremony, the helicopter made its inaugural landing on the site--a place pilots say will save precious minutes in the future.

"It took us a long time to find a place to land, and this will really help right here, because now we won't have to hunt and search," explained Dale Warren, a pilot for Omniflight.

With many year-long residents on lake martin, even patients with emergencies on land will have a place to hit the skies.

"You realize how important something like this is," said Pat Cofield, a Union resident.

Reporter:  Cody Holyoke