Here’s why a helicopter will be landing at two local playfields next week

It’ll be an unusual sight at Alki Playfield (above) and Walt Hundley Playfield during four afternoons next week when a helicopter lands for an emergency drill. The Seattle Fire Department has notified people near both fields about the plan, and one resident let us know about it – we’ve subsequently obtained from SFD the letter they are circulating:

The Seattle Fire Department is partnering with Airlift NW and Seattle Parks to provide airlift transport of patients during the West Seattle Bridge closure under extreme circumstances. This is occurring in response to the anticipated traffic impacts during peak travel times, which could delay SFD’s ability to provide transport via the typical method of a medic unit for critical patients. The frequency of helicopter transports is expected to be very low (only a few times per year, if any) but is an added capability of the fire department to serve West Seattle residents. Additionally, as previously announced, the department is dedicating an extra medic unit (Medic 26) and ladder truck (Ladder 13) during the bridge closure.

To prepare for this added helicopter capability, the department is holding a drill at the Alki and Walt Hundley Playfields in early June. From 2-3 p.m. at the below dates and locations, neighbors in the area will hear and see a helicopter land at the playfield, and firefighters simulate a patient transport hand-off.

• June 8: Alki Playfield – 5817 SW Lander St.
• June 9: Walt Hundley Playfield – 6920 34th Ave. SW
• June 10: Alki Playfield – 5817 SW Lander St.
• June 11: Walt Hundley Playfield – 6920 34th Ave. SW

The site will be secured by Seattle Fire and Police personnel. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, the fire department encourages residents to not gather at the site, but instead watch the activities from the livestream on Facebook on the first day of the drill June 8, or from your doorstep.

As we reported earlier this week, the added SFD units mentioned above are now on duty. Meantime, SFD tells us they’ll have more to say about the helicopter drill plan tomorrow.

20 Replies to "Here's why a helicopter will be landing at two local playfields next week"

  • Resident June 4, 2020 (9:37 pm)

    Received a notice this evening. Benefit of working from home, I’ll get to watch the drills at the Walt Hundley Playfield (from a safe social distance of course) 

  • Yma June 4, 2020 (9:43 pm)

    Very glad they’re thinking about this (& practicing). Are there any conversations going on about somehow setting up an ER in West Seattle?

    • Xman June 5, 2020 (8:36 am)

      That’s a good idea, with or without a bridge! 

  • Hoku June 4, 2020 (9:53 pm)

    Appreciate warning and glad about opportunity to practice. Previous emergency response experience: any kind of “practice response” training is good investment. Make mistakes in training, learn/establish basics now instead of during an emergency.

  • Trickycoolj June 4, 2020 (10:59 pm)

    Glad they’re thinking ahead on this.  Minutes count in medical emergencies.  I used to live near the helipad for UW/Children’s when I was in college, no big deal when lives were on the line.

  • LarryB June 4, 2020 (11:10 pm)

    I live down the block from Walt Hundley and have not gotten any sort of notification. Why does the city issue misleading statements about stuff like this. I’m going to post your article to the Sunrise Heights Facebook page so my neighbors at least have a clue as to what’s going to happen.

  • pilsner June 5, 2020 (1:32 am)

    Hey, lets build an airport in west seattle! I call resident 737 pilot. I’ve flown hundreds of hours on the home simulator the last few months.

  • pilsner June 5, 2020 (2:42 am)

    M*A*S*H ops and I can’t go watch? (sad face)

  • ScubaFrog June 5, 2020 (3:07 am)

    Awesome!  Great landing areas for quick paramedic access, then a very quick flight to Harborview (in the case of real life trauma).

  • 22blades June 5, 2020 (3:36 am)

    Glad they are making a dry run for the entities involved as well as the neighborhoods. Choppers can have an apocalyptic look, especially in these times of unrest: they can easily be misconstrued for something they are not. We are starting to look like an island with SFD reinforcements & evacuation helipads linking us to Harborview & Children’s. Again, glad they’re practicing.

  • Manny June 5, 2020 (6:28 am)

    Low bridge update. I drove across this morning-5am(no ev’s or trucks impeded/impacted) There are narrow shoulders on either side plus full size lanes. If car’s are on the bridge there’s PLENTY of room to pull over and let emergency vehicles to get through. If there are trucks and busses  on the bridge it looks like a TIGHT fit to get a fire truck/aid car through

  • Chris June 5, 2020 (7:27 am)

    Road access to the Alki Playfield is tight with low hanging trees on the East side and tight parking along the West side. Has SFD considered using the Bar S Playground at 6425 SW Admiral Way, Seattle, WA 98116?  There is a huge parking lot there, and wide, direct access to/from Admiral Way.

  • FF/EMT June 5, 2020 (8:05 am)

    Having worked 15 years as a firefighter and EMT in a few different rural areas, these types of landings/ air transports are nothing to be concerned about for the community.  These types of landings were very common for us and took place on roadways, intersections, football fields, parks, farm fields or any viable landing site and while may be loud or startling, are nothing to worry about.  Residential area or farm field did not make a difference as far as a preferred landing site.  Landing here in West Seattle is nothing to worry about.  For those wanting to watch these drills…. There may be an desire to want to watch, especially with children.  PLEASE BE CAREFUL…. Please wear eye protection and ear protection. Helicopter landings at non-helipad sites kick up a lot of debris, dust, stones, garbage and anything laying around within a 200ft radius.  Even when we would try to clean up a landing zone there’s no way to pick up every projectile.   So keep the kiddos protected and close by.  Take care!

    • Frog June 5, 2020 (12:51 pm)

      Alki playground is an off-leash dog park (maybe not officially, but in practice it is, every day), and the field always has dog poop on it.  So some of the projectiles kicked up by the helicopter might be of an unpleasant nature.  I recommend full PPE if you plan to watch.

  • AdmiralBridge June 5, 2020 (8:09 am)

    Really glad to see this and that some of the suggestions are starting to take hold.   Now hoping they listen to the suggestion that the eliminate the LH only turn lane WB on Highland Park to W Marginal….

  • Manny June 5, 2020 (11:54 am)

    ff/emt. Thank’s for the safety reminders. I’ll add that pilot’s and fire truck/emt drivers are VERY good at getting in/out/through places that the casual observer thinks is impassable  

  • Elaine C Ike June 5, 2020 (1:34 pm)

    This is such a good and necessary idea!  Such planning  gives access to the best hospitals and specialists for all the people of West Seattle in an extreme emergency.  Thank you to the Fire Department, Airlift NW and the Seattle Parks Department for launching this service! 

  • pilsner June 5, 2020 (2:52 pm)

    To all saying they are going to watch: It clearly says above that the sites will be secured by SPD/SFD, and to NOT gather there.

  • Sweetie Bee June 6, 2020 (7:36 am)

    Wow. Thank you for planning ahead and having resources already allocated. This must have been a West Seattle initiative. This makes a lot of sense too with all the beach people here; thanks for the head’s up as well.

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