UW News

April 12, 2013

Airlift Northwest will station a Turbo Commander aircraft in Juneau


UW Health Sciences/ UW Medicine


Airlift Northwest flight nurses and pilots disembark a patient from a turboprop at the Seattle base.Clare McLean

Beginning May 1, Airlift Northwest will station a Turbo Commander aircraft in Juneau to allow 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, an entity of UW Medicine, provides medical transport to critically ill and injured adults and children throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. It operates six bases in Washington and Alaska.

Airlift also announced recently that it will permanently base a Turbo Commander aircraft in Yakima to provide communities in Central Washington with improved access to urgent medical transport. Communities served by the Yakima-based crew include Wenatchee, Ellensburg, Omak, Moses Lake, the Tri-Cities, Sunnyside, Toppenish and other Central Washington locations.