40th Anniversary Video

A History of Safety and Trust

Life Flight Network is a not-for-profit air medical transport service focused on Safety, Quality, and Service. We are one of the nation’s oldest and most respected air medical providers.


Beginning in 1978 as Emanuel Life Flight, the program was owned and operated by Emanuel Hospital (now Legacy Emanuel Medical Center). Emanuel Life Flight was one of the first hospital-based air ambulances on the West Coast and only the fourth in the nation. Transporting 121 patients in its first year, a French-made Allouette-3 helicopter was the program’s inaugural aircraft.


Life Flight Network

In 1993, Emanuel Life Flight merged with Aircare, a Providence Health System flight program; our name was changed to reflect this milestone, and Emanuel Life Flight became Life Flight Network. This merger and name change came in concert with the decision of the three largest health care providers in the Portland metropolitan area to jointly participate in the ownership and overall operation of Life Flight Network; day-to-day operation of Life Flight Network remained under the auspices of Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.


In 2006, the consortium made a strategic decision to transfer the organization from the governance of the hospital structure and separate it into its own entity. The consortium recognized Life Flight Network would need the strength of its own organizational structure if it was going to survive in the rapidly growing and increasingly competitive air medical industry. On October 1, 2007, Life Flight Network was separated from the hospital structure and began operations under its own steam.


Saint Alphonsus

In September of 2009, Boise-based Saint Alphonsus Life Flight made a strategic decision to join Life Flight Network. Both Life Flight Network and Saint Alphonsus Life Flight realized long-term survivability would depend on the ability to collaborate with other like-minded organizations. Founded in 1986, Saint Alphonsus Life Flight’s reputation in Idaho and eastern Oregon was unparalleled.


In 2016 Northwest MedStar became part of Life Flight Network, adding six base locations to the Life Flight Network footprint: Brewster, Moses Lake, Richland, Pullman, Spokane, Washington, and Missoula, Montana, and in-house neonatal transport capabilities. Northwest MedStar was formed in 1994 when Sacred Heart’s Heartflight and Deaconess’ Lifebird air transport programs merged together. Similar to how Northwest MedStar was formed, its integration into Life Flight Network provided a framework to pull best practices from both well-established and respected organizations to better serve our communities and more efficiently respond to people in need of life-saving critical care transportation.


Today, Life Flight Network is a nationally recognized air medical transport service covering a large part of the Pacific Northwest, Intermountain West and Alaska, all while never losing sight of its core mission – to serve the community by providing critical care transportation to ill or injured patients in a safe, compassionate, efficient, and expeditious manner.

The consortium of Oregon Health & Science University, Legacy Health, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, and Providence Health & Services own Life Flight Network. The combined strength of these world-class health institutions ensures the quality of the program remains as safe and strong today as when it started in 1978.

Growth to Serve the Community

Life Flight Network continually looks to place bases in rural communities where a recognized need exists for air medical service. Noteworthy milestones in this process were:

  • 2010 opened a base in Lewiston, Idaho.
  • 2011 opened bases in La Grande, Oregon, and Pocatello, Idaho.
  • 2012 opened bases in Redmond and Pendleton, Oregon, and Sandpoint, Idaho.
  • 2014 opened a base in Butte, Montana, and becoming an FAA Part 135 air carrier.
  • 2015 relocating the Eugene, Oregon base to Cottage Grove, Oregon, and the Pocatello, Idaho base to Burley, Idaho. Two additional bases were opened, in Rexburg, Idaho, and Astoria, Oregon.
  • 2016 Northwest MedStar became part of Life Flight Network, adding six base locations to the Life Flight Network footprint: Brewster, Moses Lake, Richland, Pullman, Spokane, and Washington, and Missoula, Montana.
  • 2017 opened bases in Newport, Oregon, and Bozeman, Montana.
  • 2019 opened bases in Port Angeles and Coupeville, Washington. 
  • 2020 opened a base in Walla Walla, Washington