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 will station a helicopter equipped to act as a mobile intensive care unit, like the one pictured here, at its Whidbey Island base.
“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 Michael 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.”
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