Emergency Transportation

​Airlift Northwest

Airlift Northwest transports critically ill and injured patients within flying intensive care units staffed by highly skilled nurses. Our critical care flight nurses are trained to handle medical conditions ranging from advanced cardiac life support to neonatal resuscitation. Airlift Northwest coordinates all aspects of medical care and communications so that patients are appropriately cared for from pickup to delivery to the medical care setting that best suits their condition.

Airlift Northwest has five helicopters and six planes in its fleet, and responds to calls from one of seven bases located strategically throughout the Pacific Northwest. Our aircraft are equipped with the most up-to-date safety equipment and our pilots are all instrument-rated and trained to the highest standards in the industry. We operate 24 hours a day —every day—and service the states of Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. Airlift Northwest is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Services.

Medic One

King County’s Medic One/EMS system provides pre-hospital emergency medical care to residents of Seattle and King County using a tiered response model. Trained dispatchers respond to 9-1-1 calls and determine the emergency medical care provider most appropriate to respond to the call. Rapid, first-on-scene medical care known as Basic Life Support (BLS) is provided by Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). When Advanced Life Support (ALS) or paramedic services are needed, Medic One is dispatched. There are currently 26 ALS units located throughout King County which are strategically placed for optimal response times.

Medic One paramedics undergo 2,500 hours of rigorous training that includes classroom instruction, clinical rotations at Seattle Children’s, UW Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center, and extensive field training supervised by experienced senior paramedics. Students undergo more than twice the number of hours in training than most programs and average 700 patient contacts, more than three times the national average.

The Medic One/EMS system is known worldwide for its service excellence and measurable medical results. The average response time for the first arriving unit to an aid call is one of the fastest average times in the nation. And King County has the highest survival rate for cardiac arrest in the world.

Airlift Northwest FAQ

Q. Who decides when air medical transportation is needed? How do I go about receiving service from Airlift Northwest?

A. The attending physician or emergency response team may determine that air medical transportation is needed when you or a family member are seriously ill or injured. In those cases, you may request services from Airlift Northwest.

Q. Is a family member allowed to ride along in the airplane or helicopter?

A. We try to take a family member as a passenger if possible, as long as the family member is not impaired in any capacity and is appropriately clothed for the journey.

Q. What is the Airlift Northwest App?

A. The Airlift Northwest app—Activate—is designed for first responders. The Activate app gives medics an easy direct connection to the dispatch center. It also provides a view of traffic and weather, service area maps, field guides such as a pediatric dose chart, educational content, news, and location and contact information. It is designed to be a one-stop resource for first responders summoning air medical transportation.

Download the free Airlift Northwest app for Apple or the Airlift Northwest app for Android.

Q. Where are Airlift Northwest’s flight bases located?

A. In Washington:
Seattle, Bremerton, Arlington, Bellingham, Olympia and Yakima

In Alaska:

Q. What planes and helicopters are in your fleet?

A. In Washington
  • One Augusta A109E Power and four Aibus H-135 high-performance helicopters are based in Bremerton, Bellingham, Arlington, Seattle, Yakima and Olympia
  • One fixed wing Pilatus PC-12 based in Yakima
  • One fixed wing Learjet 31A based in Seattle

Learn more about our Washington fleet.

In Alaska
  • One fixed-wing Learjet 31A is based in Juneau
  • One fixed wing Turbo Commander (which will be swapped out for a Pilatus PC-12 in the first quater of 2017) is based in Juneau

Learn more about our Alaska fleet.

Q. Is Airlift accredited?

A. Airlift Northwest has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Services (CAMTS) since 1997. Accreditation means a medical transport service meets a series of industry standards that address issues of patient care and safety.

Q. What are your nurses’ credentials?

A. We fly with two highly skilled critical care nurses on every flight, with at least one trained in pediatrics. Our nurses have current certifications in:
  • Advanced cardiac life support
  • Pediatric advanced life support
  • Trauma nursing core course
  • Neonatal resuscitation program
  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

Each team also has flight nurses with one of the following certifications:

  • Critical care nursing (CCRN)
  • Emergency nursing (CEN)
  • Flight nursing (CFRN)
  • Specialty (RNC)

This level of expertise is unique in the air medical industry and comparable to that found in a hospital intensive care unit.

Q. What is an AirCare membership?

A. Airlift Northwest is pleased to offer AirCare membership, a program that provides Washington residents with high-quality air medical transport service at an affordable cost. Lifesaving air medical transport can be expensive and insurances may not cover all costs. As an AirCare member, only your insurance company receives a bill. Airlift Northwest works directly with your insurance company for claims processing. The AirCare membership program is secondary to all payers.

The purpose of the AirCare membership is to cover the patient responsibility amount indicated by the insurance company’s explanation of benefit for all emergent and medically necessary air medical transport services that are provided to the closest, most appropriate facility. Airlift Northwest offers AirCare membership through two programs: AirCare in Washington and AirCare in Southeast Alaska.​

Medic One FAQ

Q. Is a family member allowed to ride along in the medic unit?

A. Whether or not a family member can ride in the medic unit is decided on a case-by case basis. We try to accommodate a family member whenever possible but the best interests of the patient always come first. If the presence of a family member may compromise the care of the patient in any way, the family member will not be allowed to come along. For example, if medical attention must be administered, there may not be enough room as space is limited. In those cases where we are not able to accommodate a family member, we inform you where we are going so that you may meet the patient at the healthcare facility.

Q. When are the lights and sirens used in a medic unit?

A. Lights and sirens are used only when the patient’s condition is considered life-threatening or is rapidly deteriorating.

Q. After calling 9-1-1, what can I do to help before the medic unit arrives?

A. 9-1-1 dispatchers are trained to provide pre-arrival instructions for most medical emergencies. They will guide you through life-saving steps including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) instructions until the medic unit arrives. Follow the instructions of the 9-1-1 dispatcher. Do not move the patient—unless necessary to remove him or her from danger—as this has the potential to cause further physical injury.

Q. What is the difference between Emergency Medical Technicians and paramedics?

A. Emergency Medical Technicians are able to provide Basic Life Support. Paramedics may provide Advanced Life Support that includes administering a variety of drugs, opening airways and providing other more technically advanced emergency care.