Aspiring Eagle Scout paints Frick helipad near Mt. Pleasant
It's a situation during which seconds lost could cost someone their life, but seconds gained just might save it.
When an emergency transport helicopter approaches a medical facility such as Excela Health Frick Hospital near Mt. Pleasant, it is of utmost importance that the pilot immediately be able to locate the emergency helipad regardless of time of day or weather conditions, said Tom Bageant, who has worked there has a respiratory therapist there for more than two decades.
“When you're flying a helicopter and you're looking for landing spot at a hospital, you want to not have any hesitation on where it is,” said Bageant, 63, of East Huntingdon.
That will not be an issue for the foreseeable future at the Church Street facility due to the hard work of one Colt Miller.
Miller, 16, a member of Boy Scouts of America Troop 133 in Mt. Pleasant and the son of Paul and Janice Miller of Bullskin, recently was required to earn a Community Service Project Badge in his pursuit of certification as an Eagle Scout.
While visiting his grandmother, Lola Stillwagon of Bullskin, last winter at the hospital with his family, Miller received a suggestion from Bageant, a longtime family friend and mentor, on a possible project.
“He talked about me repainting the hospital's helipad. Tom pushed me to go for it,” Miller said. “He's a real motivator.”
With that, Miller began the process of meeting with various hospital staff including Frank Sebek, the director of facilities management there.
Once Sebek showed Miller the weather-worn helipad, he knew he'd found his project.
“It looked like it needed help. Since I could choose a project, I decided to help out the hospital,” Miller said.
With supplies donated by Excela Health — including five gallons of white paint and two gallons red paint — and assistance offered by his friend and fellow Boy Scout Greg Rosenstel, 15, of Dunbar, Miller was able to clean, prime and paint the hospital's helipad in just one day in late August.
“I had fun doing it and I glad I got to help out the community,” Miller said.
Miller also did his mentor proud.
“I'm proud of him. He did a nice job, and it really makes a difference,” Bageant said. “Just the visibility of heliport, it's a win-win situation for Colt.
“When an Eagle Scout completes his project, it benefits the community. Colt painted the helipad, and that helps the helicopter land safely, and that helps bring patients in and out, and in the end it helps everyone.”
Miller — who joined the Cub Scouts in the first grade — said he must now earn only an Environmental Science Badge and his Citizenship in the World Badge before Connellsville Area junior can go before the Eagle Scout board of review for certification.
“But this was a huge thing to complete,” said Miller of the helipad project.
A.J. Panian is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.