Hascall & Hall was brought in to address significant safety issues concerning the rooftop helipad at Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC), a flagship hospital facility located on the Penobscot River serving not just the city of Bangor but up to half the geographic area of Maine.
This project at EMMC was representative of many similarly complex projects we encounter, in the sense that we may not always execute our work on the building the very same year we establish a relationship with its owner. The time it takes from our initial contact with a client to actually initiating a project can sometimes extend months, or even years. The parties responsible for making repairs to a building may need to clear numerous hurdles before they gain the funding, approval, and/or permits required to undertake even the most crucial of projects.
After a thorough project review conducted by working closely with EMMC personnel, Hascall & Hall identified several critical areas of work. Once final approval was given, a project management plan was put in place. The work had to be completed as expediently as possible because Life Flight of Maine would need to operate from an alternative, off-site location for the duration of the project. Meeting a deadline is important for every job, but this one had particular immediacy because a delay could easily translate to lives being lost. The hospital kept detailed records of the impact the alternate helicopter landing location made on critical patients’ access to emergency medical attention.
The extreme Maine weather had seriously deteriorated the landing area used by Life Flight of Maine. The hospital needed a landing area that was visible even in the foulest weather. The landing area deterioration meant that visibility was compromised due to fading and cracking of the landing pad. EMMC was adamant that it be rectified and called on Hascall & Hall to remedy the situation.
We began work immediately upon approval to improve the visibility of the landing pad as well as the lettering on the wind wall, making sure that each area was as visible as possible and in complete compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines for landing areas.
With the project thoroughly evaluated, we were asked to recommend the best product for waterproofing the roof. EMMC’s goal was to make the medical approach path for patient gurneys to Life Flight both smoother for quick response and slip-resistant for safety. We were pleased to help EMMC achieve this goal.
In preparing the concrete rooftop we began by first power-washing the entire surface, then laying out the landing area and gurney path. All random cracks were then routed out for the application of a highly flexible caulking to withstand the severe weather conditions. Next we shot-blasted the entire landing area and pathway using our self-contained shot-blast equipment. Once the above work was completed, the entire area was primed, and subsequent coats of urethane deck coating were spread, followed by a topcoat with a nonskid finish that was also applied to the entire area, making the entire roof watertight and slip-resistant.
Once the product had cured, we were able to stripe the sides and the landing cross, ensuring that the area had the requisite colors and luminosity to be fully FAA compliant. The adjacent wind wall was also coated.
The remainder of the concrete roof had a clear waterproofing applied to the surface, thus completing the essential waterproofing. EMMC can rest safely in the knowledge that any potential water leakage would be prevented in such a highly sensitive area of the facility.
All in all, in the course of performing exterior work in the state of Maine, this was a straightforward project with an element of heightened awareness for the crew. When we took into account the fact that Life Flight of Maine had to be relocated to another landing area during the process—adding critical transportation time for patients once the chopper landed—there was new meaning brought to the old adage, “Time is of the essence!” We were charged with completing the project in two weeks, and did so, despite the occasional electrical storm and other issues one can regularly count on from Mother Nature in Northern Maine.