07/11/2019: "Not-For-Profit Air Medical Transport To Serve San Juan County"
( A helicopter equipped to act as a mobile intensive care unit will be based on Whidbey Island )
Life Flight Network, the largest not-for-profit air medical transport service in the United States, is partnering with WhidbeyHealth Medical Center to open a new base in Island County, Washington. The base will be operational in late summer 2019. The 24/7 air medical helicopter, pilot and medical crew, will be based on location at WhidbeyHealth Medical Center, serving not only Coupeville and nearby communities, but also the broader Puget Sound Region including the San Juan Islands.
Life Flight Network is a not-for-profit air medical transport service focused on Safety, Quality, and Service. We are one of the nation’s oldest and most respected air ambulance providers.
The consortium of Oregon Health & Science University, Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, and Providence Health & Services own Life Flight Network.
“We’re proud to partner with the exceptional providers at WhidbeyHealth and to work alongside local emergency responders in serving the health care needs of Island County residents,” said Life Flight Network CEO Mike Griffiths. “At the core of our expansion in Washington is our mission to provide ICU- level transportation in a safe, compassionate, efficient and expeditious manner. With 41 years serving the state of Washington, we’re honored to add this new base and partnership to our service area.”
This second northwest Washington location expands capacity for Life Flight Network’s Port Angeles base, where demand is growing and the relationship with the local EMS community is strong.
The two service areas will support each other when the demand for timely response for air medical transport is high.
“Our partnership with Life Flight Network will further enhance local services available for our patients and communities and allow us to provide access to even more specialized care,” said Ron Telles, WhidbeyHealth CEO. “We’re proud to be their partner, and we welcome Life Flight Network to Whidbey Island.”
In addition to serving Island County and neighboring rural communities, the new base will strengthen emergency medical response for the state’s population center. Seattle is the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the nation this decade, growing by nearly 19 percent and adding more than 114,000 people since 2010. The broader Puget Sound region, including Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, King, Snohomish, and Skagit counties, is expected to gain at least 1.9 million people by 2050, for a total of nearly 6 million residents.
“Partnering with Life Flight Network to provide locally-based air medical transport is an unequivocal advantage to both WhidbeyHealth EMS and our community,” said Sean LeVine, Assistant Manager of WhidbeyHealth EMS. “Life Flight Network’s exemplary history of providing safe and compassionate care is consistent with the WhidbeyHealth mission. We welcome Life Flight Network and look forward to working with them.”
The Whidbey Island base brings the total of helicopters serving the region from three to four. By comparison, the Phoenix, AZ metro area - a comparable-sized urban area with more than 4 million residents today - has eight helicopter bases serving its two-county landlocked region (Maricopa and Pinal counties).
“Helicopter air ambulance response is an essential health care service for a fast-growing urban area with traffic congestion among the worst in the country in addition to some of the most challenging landscapes due to large bodies of water,” said Dr. Jim Bryan, Life Flight Network Medical Director.
“During a medical emergency, every second counts. Helicopters are uniquely suited to respond to emergencies over bodies of water and during peak traffic times, when gridlock challenges ground ambulances to move quickly and safely.”
Life Flight Network will station an Agusta-Westland AW109E helicopter at its Whidbey Island base. The AW109E is an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) capable aircraft, allowing safe operation in a range of weather conditions. The AW109E is one of the fastest light helicopters available and can cruise at 172 miles per hour. Each Life Flight Network helicopter is equipped with the medical equipment necessary to act as a mobile intensive care unit, with the ability to perform a multitude of highly skilled medical functions during transport, including video laryngoscopes, ICU level ventilators, and blood products for emergency transfusions.
Life Flight Network is a nationally recognized air ambulance service and membership program with more than 600 employees. The new base will create nearly 20 new jobs on Whidbey Island. The aircraft will be staffed 24/7 with an ICU-level nurse, experienced paramedic, and a highly skilled pilot. In addition to the medical staff based in Coupeville, Life Flight Network employs a full time dedicated medical director and associate medical directors to oversee the high level of quality medical care provided across its service region. Life Flight Network serves the western United States, including Alaska, from bases throughout the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West.
Life Flight Network offers memberships for a $65 annual fee. Members incur no out-of-pocket expense if flown for medically necessary emergent conditions by Life Flight Network or one of its reciprocal partners. To request more information about the membership program, or if organizations would like an in-person presentation, contact the Life Flight Network membership office at 800-982-9299.
ABOUT LIFE FLIGHT NETWORK
Life Flight Network, a not-for-profit air medical service, is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) and the National Accreditation Alliance of Medical Transport Applications (NAAMTA). Life Flight Network is the largest not-for-profit air medical transport service in the United States. Its service area covers the western United States, including Alaska. Life Flight Network is headquartered in Aurora, Oregon. For more information about Life Flight Network or to become a member, visit www.lifeflight.org.