Life Flight Network to Open New Air Medical Base in Butte, MT

Research and dialogue with local EMS and other area healthcare professionals supports decision to establish an air medical base in Butte.

December 13, 2013 – Aurora, Oregon… Life Flight Network (LFN), the nation’s largest not-for-profit air medical transport service with headquarters in Aurora, Oregon, announced plans today to open a new base at Bert Mooney Airport in Butte, Montana by approximately January 15, 2014.

Michael Griffiths, LFN’s CEO, states, “Life Flight Network seeks opportunities to provide much-needed air medical resources to rural communities. As time sensitive treatments for patients continue to evolve, coupled with the increasing difficulty obtaining specialty healthcare in outlying communities, the need for locally-based air ambulance service grows. Our fast and safe critical care air medical transport capabilities will greatly enhance patient care for the citizens of Butte and Western Montana. We look forward to providing lifesaving service for residents, while supporting area EMS programs, physicians and hospitals.”

LFN provides critical care transportation for seriously ill or injured patients throughout the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West. LFN’s new Butte base is supported by a number of area EMS and healthcare professionals, including Carol Kennedy, RN, MSN, and Chief Clinical Officer at Barrett Hospital & HealthCare in Dillon. She states, “We see considerable expense of community resources in moving a patient to a needed higher level of care or for services that our local hospital cannot provide. This expense includes taking a “911” ambulance out of the County as well as an RN out of the hospital in many cases. A Life Flight Network base in Butte would provide a much quicker solution while leaving our local resources here for the community.”

Opening the new base in Butte is also supported by Rick Later, President, and Brenda Kirkley, Vice President, of Beaverhead EMS. Following meetings with LFN, a spokesperson for the organization shared, “Beaverhead EMS looks forward to collaborating with Life Flight Network in order to provide efficient critical care access to patients in need of higher levels of care. This level of air medical service will be very beneficial not only to patients, but to the residents and communities of Beaverhead County.”

Freddy Bartoletti, MD, FACEP, Medical Director for Community Hospital of Anaconda Emergency Department holds a similar viewpoint and explains, “The addition of a new rotor wing air medical base located in Butte is an exciting addition to the medical services offered in our region. The utilization of Life Flight Network will augment the existing air medical services in the area and will expedite patient transportation from accident scenes and between facilities. We are excited to build a working relationship with them and welcome them to our region and all of our healthcare teams.”

The new LFN base in Butte will be home for one of the company’s new AgustaWestland 119Kx “Koala” helicopters with a safety-enhancing Garmin G1000H avionics package. These aircraft are equipped with synthetic vision, night-vision goggle capability, satellite weather and tracking and the Appareo video and data cockpit recording system. The Koala offers the ability to transport a two-person critical care team and two patients with full-body access. LFN will provide fixed-wing transport capabilities to Montana residents when the Butte helicopter is unable to fly due to weather conditions.

The company plans to hire 14 employees for the Butte base, including Flight Nurses, Flight Paramedics, Pilots and Mechanics. The payroll and benefits for these highly-skilled personnel will exceed $1 million per year, providing a positive economic benefit for the community. These crewmembers and the rotor- wing aircraft assigned to the base will be at the ready to handle air medical transport on a 24 hour/7 days per week basis. LFN has secured hanger space at Bert Mooney Airport, and anticipates establishing service in January.

Given the growing need for safe and timely air medical transport, LFN has strategically positioned 16 bases throughout the region to provide enhanced coverage. The company has provided air medical service for more than 35 years and anticipates having a larger presence in Montana.

LFN blazed a new trail of excellence by earning the very first Program of the Year award in the Northwest from the Association of Air Medical Services. LFN is owned by a consortium of four prestigious health systems, including Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, Oregon Health & Science University and Providence Health System-Oregon.

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