Airlift Northwest

​​​​​​​Air Medical Services For Referring Health-Care Professionals

Within moments of receiving an emergency call, an Airlift Northwest team is on the way. While the flight crew prepares for takeoff, the Airlift Northwest 24-Hour ComCenter sets in motion a coordinated emergency response network by:
  • Alerting our aviation partners to determine if a flight can be made based on weather and other aviation factors;
  • Communicating directly with requesting agencies;
  • Collecting and relaying patient information;
  • Providing estimated time of arrival (ETA) updates to all involved in the transport procedure; and
  • Arranging for ground transportation, if required
 At the emergency site or hospital — and for the duration of the flight — Airlift Northwest nurses provide critical patient care and convey updated patient information to the staff of the receiving hospital.

If additional ground transportation is required, Airlift Northwest nurses remain with the patient enroute to the receiving hospital.


All aviation services, pilots and mechanics are provided by Air Methods Corporation and Aero Air. 

24-Hour ComCenter

A physician, nurse or member of an authorized public safety agency may request emergency air medical services by calling toll free 1.800.426.2430 or 206.329.2569 from Seattle.


Where is the landing zone?

Is it a non-designated or designated landing zone? A school, parking lot, roadway intersection? This information, along with map page coordinates and GPS coordinates, if available, helps the pilot locate the scene and land safely.

Who is the ground contact?

Ground contact is used for direct two-way communication with the pilot and the landing zone coordinator, such as an aide unit or engine company. Preferably, the ground contact should be on site, coordinating the landing zone. 

What radio frequency can Airlift Northwest use for ground contact?

​The pilot will dial in the established radio frequency as the aircraft nears the landing zone. It is important for requestors to know their frequency numbers and if there is a Private Line (PL) associated with it. If agencies operate in the field with a PL and the pilot does not have that PL, the pilot will not be able to communicate with the landing zone coordinator.

The preferred frequencies are:
  • 800 MHz-State Ops 1 preferred (if available) or
  • VHF-TAC frequency preferred — primary frequency may be too busy

What is the response type?

The 24-Hour ComCenter needs only a brief description of the patient and situation for a pre-hospital transport.

"Adult trauma… pediatric near drowning… high-risk OB… MVA… gunshot wound" provides sufficient information for dispatch — and gives Airlift Northwest and the receiving facility an idea of what to expect and how to prepare.

Who is the receiving hospital?

The pre-hospital provider, in conjunction with his or her medical control, should determine the appropriate receiving hospital. The 24-Hour ComCenter communicates with the receiving hospital as soon as possible so that the hospital can:

  • Have sufficient and specialized staff on site to care for the patient
  • Ensure the landing pad will be ready to receive the helicopter
  • Arrange for ground transportation from the helipad, if needed

​What is the weather like at the landing zone?

While it may be clear and dry at the point of takeoff, the landing zone may be fogged or snowed in. Typical weather questions asked by the Airlift Northwest 24-Hour ComCenter are:
  • What is the estimated ceiling?
  • Can you see the tops of the trees? The stars?
  • Is it snowing?


  • Name of the person requesting transport
  • Referring hospital phone number
  • Your telephone number, with area code and extension
  • Referring hospital and physician
  • Receiving hospital and physician
  • Name, age and weight of patient
  • Patient information – the patient's diagnosis, vital signs and medications – to help Airlift Northwest determine if any special equipment or supplies not normally carried on the aircraft are necessary. These could include blood products, an isolette, traction device or pacemaker.
  • Weather conditions at your facility.

    During certain times of the year, weather conditions can vary and affect the ability to land an aircraft at your facility or a nearby landing area. The 24-Hour ComCenter may ask for a description of weather conditions at your facility. Is it foggy or snowing? Can you see the tops of the trees, the stars?

Your assistance in providing this essential information will ensure the best possible outcome for patients.

All aviation services, pilots and mechanics are provided by Air Methods Corporation and Aero Air.

Landing Zone Guidelines

When preparing for emergency air transport, Airlift Northwest and our aviation partner, Air Methods, ask that you follow these landing zone guidelines.

Before Helicopter Arrives

Inspect the landing zone (LZ). Landing zones should be clear of:
  • Debris and unsecured materials
  • Brush taller than knee high
Prepare a brief LZ description:
  • Note overhead wires, light standards, radio towers, fences, obstructions or other hazards in relation to compass bearings (N,S,E,W).
  • Note surface winds and visibility.
Observe LZ safety and security:
  • Fire department personnel should maintain a 200' perimeter for bystanders, from aircraft arrival through departure.
  • Personal protective equipment (vision and hearing protection) should be used.
Minimize LZ lighting issues:
  • No white strobe lights
  • Red lights assist in noting location
  • Flares are OK as long as they are not a fire hazard due to the helicopter downwash.
  • All white lights, such as headlights, should be OFF during landing and takeoff to protect pilot's night vision.
  • Do not spotlight overhead hazards.

Helicopter Arrival and Landing

As the helicopter approaches the landing zone, be sure to:
  • Brief the pilot prior to arrival, noting locations of known hazards in the LZ area.
  • Remain in two-way radio contact throughout landing.
  • Be prepared to call off landing if LZ or helicopter approach becomes unsafe.
While in the helicopter is in the LZ:
  • Do not approach the helicopter until the rotor blades have stopped.
  • Approach the helicopter only from the front, once directed by the flight crew.
  • Do not walk around the tail, even when aircraft is shut down.
  • Maintain the LZ security and light restrictions at all times.
  • Review known hazards with the pilot before aircraft departure.

Helicopter Departure

The following precautions should be followed for helicopter departure:
  • Clear all ground personnel away from the helicopter before the engine starts.
  • No one may approach after engine(s) started.
  • Re-establish two-way radio contact with pilot and confirm the LZ is secure.
  • Notify the pilot immediately if an unsafe situation develops.

Landing zone brief

The following is an example of a LZ brief.

"Airlift, this is (LZ command).

The landing zone is a (roadway, school, parking lot, field), surrounded by (street trees, buildings, fences), approximately (dimensions), marked by (strobes, lights, flares, cones).

Obstacles and hazards in the area are (wires, light standards, radio towers, fences) to the (note in each compass direction).

Surface winds are (calm, light, variable, strong, gusting) in (compass direction).

Clearest path of approach is from the (direction)."

Landing Zone Information provided and approved by Air Methods.

All aviation services, pilots and mechanics are provided by Air Methods Corporation and Aero Air.​ ​​