CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea—South Korea was one of the first countries affected by COVID-19. Although the novel virus has drastically altered operations within the Republic of Korea, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Far East District (FED) has continued to diligently find ways to provide engineering solutions in support of United States Forces Korea (USFK).
Last year, Jung C. Young, a USACE FED structural engineer, worked to assess and certify the Ajou University Medical Center’s helipad for USFK helicopters to use during a MEDEVAC.
Since that time Jung has continually worked to certify other helipads for USFK operational use throughout South Korea. There are a total of nine hospitals which have been selected to be assessed to support these efforts.
“The assessment includes ensuring that the helipads are in regulation with U.S. helicopter specifications and U.S. helicopter code,” said Jung. “I have recently visited five hospitals with Eighth Army, and I am only working with Samsung Changwon Hospital as there helipad meets our specifications,” said Jung.
It’s important for USFK to have several MEDEVAC destinations throughout the country based on the helicopter flight time and the logistics of the current method.
“The issue is that the helicopters have a 30 min flight radius,” said Jung. “The hospital has been using ground transportation [ambulance],” said Jung. “The issue with ground transportation that if there is a traffic jam, they cannot get a patient to treatment in sufficient time.”
Recently, Jung has deemed two helipads qualified to be used and one is currently being reviewed. Jung also stated that one of the easiest certifications was with Dongguk Ilsan Medical Center, where the helipad is located on the ground level.
“I hope to have the review for Samsung Changwon Hospital done soon and approved for use,” said Jung. “Upon completion there will be three helipads certified by the U.S. government.”
An important aspect Jung wanted to highlight is, this process encompasses building of continuity so that in the future USFK and Eighth Army will have a developed system and fully operational helipads.