Airlift Northwest opens satellite base on Orcas Island

The air ambulance service’s local presence will expedite response times to medical emergencies in the San Juan Islands.

Airlift Northwest, the not-for-profit air medical transport service of UW Medicine, has opened a new satellite helicopter base on Orcas Island, Wash., to expedite response times to the communities of the San Juan Islands. The aircraft will be based at Orcas Island Eastsound Municipal Airport.

The new base began daily operations Dec. 6 with an Airbus H 135 helicopter equipped to transport critically ill patients. It has a range of 340 miles, a cruising speed of 156 mph, and the instrument flight rules capability to operate in adverse weather conditions. Each aircraft is staffed with two critical-care nurses and often a physician.

 “San Juan County is fortunate to have quality air medical transport service from three qualified agencies. Because we value our air medical agencies, Orcas Island Fire & Rescue is pleased to have the opportunity to support Airlift Northwest as they move forward with plans to establish a stronger presence on Orcas Island,” said Chief Scott Williams, Orcas Island Fire Department.

“As I look at emergency medical services on Orcas Island, there is a very recognizable benefit to having the critical care level of medical services from Airlift Northwest more readily available to our residents and visitors. This increased availability of a critical care nursing team and the additional medical services they can provide while enroute to our regional emergency departments is of great importance to our patients and reflects the strong support Airlift Northwest has for our community,” Williams added.

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