U.S. residents in the mountainous, spread-out regions of the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West will now have more air ambulance coverage to look forward to. Life Flight Network, a not-for-profit air ambulance service headquartered in the Northwest United States, made the announcement last week that they will open a new helicopter base in Redmond, Oregon this Wednesday.“Our decision to open a base in Redmond follows substantial research and dialogue with area healthcare professionals to confirm bringing our air medical transport capabilities to the area will enhance patient care,” stated Michael Griffiths, CEO of Life Flight Network. “When we took into account Central Oregon’s population growth has more than doubled since the area’s first and only helicopter was placed in service almost 30 years ago, the decision to make the investment in a Redmond base became clear.”
The Association of Air Medical Services, an international, not-for-profit association that provides service and leadership for both air and surface medical transport providers, has authored a press release stating that they are “extremely pleased” about the agreement Congress recently arrived at regarding FAA funding. The new agreement will provide four years of authorized funding for the FAA, running up to the end of fiscal year 2015.
The Federal Aviation Administration has been running solely on short-term, temporary extensions of government funding since 2007, making this agreement the first long-term authorization for the agency in five years. The Association of Air Medical Services believes that this long-term authorization of funds will allow the agency the greater level of stability they require for making better investment and planning decisions in the long-term.
This past year was full of stories both inspiring and heartbreaking. Air Ambulance Weekly reported on important current events facing the air medical industry, the latest developments in air medical technology, fantastic life-saving stories of air ambulance crews, and ways to improve the safety of air medical operations.
Indeed, there were many events in 2011 that were not only interesting, but unique: from the supposed epidemic of sleeping air traffic controllers, to the supposed imminent shutdown of the FAA. We posted stories following tragic accidents and miraculous rescues.
When looking for the top blog posts of last year (a difficult prospect) we tried to focus primarily on over-arcing issues facing air ambulances — this is not to take anything away from the individual incidents that shaped air medical news in 2011, but we feel it’s helpful to look back at stories (especially certain recurring themes) that can help us going forward into this new year.Drug Cartels
On this, the final day of 2011,we would would like to pay tribute to three fallen air medical crewmen who tragically lost their lives en route to pick up a heart for a patient’s life-saving transplant.
Hoke Smith, a pilot who was a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War, founded SK Jets in St. Augustine in 1997. Having learned to fly at the age of 16, he earned the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Distinguished Flying Cross in the Vietnam War, deftly piloting both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft for the U.S. Army. He piloted medical transports “quite often,” and “loved to fly” according to his son, Derrick Smith, the general manager of SK Jets. Far from being just the owner of the company, Hoke was also an active and highly-requested pilot for charter clients.
Aviation Concepts, a jet management and charter company headquartered in Guam (not to be confused with Aviation Concepts Inc., a South Florida aviation parts and distribution company) has reportedly halted its membership-based “CareJet” air ambulance service to the Mariana Islands.
For some background, the Mariana Islands are a U.S.-controlled archipelago formed by a chain of volcanic mountains in the Northwest Pacific Ocean, just East of the deepest point on earth, the Mariana Trench.
Like many geographical regions composed of relatively isolated islands, air ambulance services are especially useful for transporting critical-care patients to advanced healthcare facilities.
AC had offered a subscription program which provided low-cost air ambulance coverage for residents of the Islands. However, it was discontinued when not enough residents of the Marianas signed up for the coverage.