Boy Scout Builds Hospital Helipad in Eagle Pursuit
Scott Walker of Santa Paula could hear the helicopter before he could see it, so he scanned the horizon even harder Saturday morning, eager to put his biggest and boldest Boy Scout project to the test.
For the past month, the 17-year-old aspiring Eagle Scout has been building a helipad at Santa Paula Memorial Hospital, hoping to complete his community service requirement while helping the medical facility handle emergency traffic.
In a brief but violent swirl of wind and dust, Scott accomplished both goals Saturday when Ventura County Sheriff’s Department pilot Dave Nadon lowered his blue-and-yellow helicopter onto the 20-by-20-foot concrete slab.
“That went well,” said the junior at St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, receiving congratulations from hospital officials, friends and family members. “Now I have the hardest part of the Eagle Scout requirement out of the way. And the hospital got a free helipad out of it.”
Indeed, hospital officials have long desired a real landing strip for helicopters ferrying in emergency patients.
Until now, helicopters have been forced to land in a nearby field, dodging tall trees and overgrown weeds. With the help of family members and other Scouts, Scott set out to change that.
He cleared and leveled the land, then laid the concrete helipad and walkway.
The walking path connects to a walkway on the hospital’s south side that leads directly to the emergency room.
After persuading local businesses to donate supplies, it took him about a month to complete the project.
“It’s going to be very helpful,” said emergency room supervisor Carol Askren, on hand to congratulate the prospective Eagle Scout. “He has just been great. And it’s really a commendable project.”
Scott is still a few merit badges short of earning the Eagle Scout rank. But he has until his 18th birthday to do so, and that doesn’t come until the fall.
“I thought this would be a good idea because helicopters didn’t have any place to land,” he said. “Before now, they just had a muddy field with a bunch of gopher holes in it.”