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By Max Erikson

Life Flight provides cheap peace of mind


December 13, 2017

Life Flight Network will be celebrating 40 years of service in 2018 and continues to serve the rural communities of the Pacific Northwest by providing air medical transport for people in life threatening situations.

It also provides an easy way to keep their costs cheap if you have to use their services.

Injuries sustained in life threatening situations or accidents are sometimes beyond the capabilities of local hospitals to provide the necessary care needed. That is where Life Flight comes in, to transfer those pa-tients to specialized trauma hospitals in Portland and Seattle.

Established in 1978, Life Flight Network was the first of its kind on the west coast and over the years has combined with four hospitals in the Northwest to jointly offer services to patients.

Hospitals in Portland include Providence Hospital, Legacy Emmanuel, and Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU). For the state of Idaho, Saint Alphonso's Hospital provides services.

Stationed at the Dallesport Airport, Life Flight Network services all of Klickitat County, parts of Ya-kima County, and the east side of Mt. Adams. It also services The Dalles and Hood River communities in Oregon.

Klickitat Valley Health (KVH) is one of those hospitals that uses Life Flight one or more times a week, and the emergency staff are very happy with the service.

"I can't say enough good things about Life Flight," Emergency Services RN Hannah Gunnyon says. "Their team is responsive and dependable. We are blessed to have this service in our community. They are amazing."

Life Flight Network regional director Jacob Dalstra says they get at least one call per day-sometimes more-for an emergency air transport in this service area.

"Our crews are always on the job, 24 hours a day," Dalstra says. "The majority of the calls we get have to do with cardiac arrest or stroke victims, and of course we do get the more severe trauma calls from major accidents, but those are less frequent."

Life Flight Networks use both helicopters and fixed-wing airplanes for its services, depending on the distance of the transport and the severity of the injuries. They use H135 helicopters that have a range of 160 miles and the PC-12 fixed-wing planes that can stretch to 300 miles if needed. Dalstra says they have the ability to transport anywhere in the continental United States.

"The majority of our flights are transporting patients from smaller hospitals to larger ones," Dalstra says. "When it comes to a lifesaving moment we can usual make the trip to Portland or Seattle in under 90 minutes."

Each Life Flight crew consists of one pilot, one nurse, and a critical care medic who specializes in trau-ma and stabilization of patients.

There are also specialized teams that care for infants and small children called Neonatal Pediatric teams.

For the residents of Klickitat County-and the region-Life Flight services just got more efficient with the recent completion of a new hanger at the Dallesport Airport. The hanger is big enough to house both Life Flight helicopters and airplanes.

"It is a huge upgrade for us that we have been working on for years," Dalstra says. "With our vehicles out of the elements and now covered we can move faster when a call comes in. Now we don't have to worry about snow and ice accumulation that takes time to thaw or scrape off. In a trauma situation, every second counts"

In the case of an unforeseen accident and the need for a Life Flight service, the cost can be very expensive if you do not have a Life Flight membership. The amount can run in the tens of thousands of dollars, depending on what type of insurance you have. But with a Life Flight Membership, you and all members of your household, including dependents, are covered.

Memberships are $65 per year and discounts are available for police, fire, EMT, and hospital employees for $50 a year.

Life Flight Network has 22 bases located across the Pacific Northwest and is a growing program.

"We want to be the best part of somebody's worst day when tragedy strikes," Dalstra says. "We are committed to provide the best possible care and experience for our clients and help people the best we can."

To learn more about Life Flight Network and to become a member (meaning buy the insurance), visit the website at


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