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New turboprop enables greater range of medical response in Southeast Alaska

Turbo Commander aircraft for medical transportation.

Turbo Commander aircraft for medical transportation.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Airlift Northwest

Seattle -- Beginning May 1, Airlift Northwest will station a Turbo Commander aircraft in Juneau, allowing the medical transport service to reach more people living in outlying rural communities in Southeast Alaska.

Airlift has served Southeast Alaska for over 30 years transporting critically ill or injured patients to specialty care in Anchorage or Seattle, and will continue this service. Airlift currently operates a Learjet, which has limitations landing in smaller communities due to shorter airport runways.

The Turbo Commander is better suited to land on shorter runways allowing improved access to the smaller community airports based in Gustavas, Haines, Hoonah, Kake, Prince of Wales Island and Skagway.

“Airlift Northwest is dedicated to saving lives by providing pre-hospital emergency treatment on the ground and in the air,” said Chris Martin, executive director. “In response to requests for improved access to medical transport from providers in Southeast Alaska, we are pleased to offer this new service.”

“The turboprop will allow us to access patients who, in the past, have had to make their way to an area where we could get them in the Learjet. Now we won’t see that delay,” said Dr. Richard Utarnachitt, medical director for Airlift.

Patient care will be provided by two critical care nurses with current certifications in advanced skills for cardiac life support, pediatric life support, neonatal resuscitation and trauma care.

AIRLIFT NORTHWEST

Airlift Northwest provides medical transport to critically ill and injured adults and children throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Since 1982, it has provided care during more than 90,000 flights.

Airlift Northwest operates six bases in Washington and Alaska. Its fleet includes three Eurocopter helicopters equipped with night vision goggles and infrared technology, an Agusta helicopter, two Learjets and two Turbo Commander aircraft, stationed strategically in Arlington, Bellingham, Olympia, Seattle and Yakima, Wash., and Juneau, Alaska. This affords access to any airport in the continental United States and Canada.

Airlift Northwest is an entity of UW Medicine, which also includes Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, Valley Medical Center, UW Medical Center, UW Neighborhood Clinics, UW Physicians and UW School of Medicine.

For more information, visit airliftnw.org.

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