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Welcome to the Airlift Northwest Observation Rider information page

Airlift Northwest offers an observer experience for command level staff, including physicians, nurses, medics and EMT’s at EMS agencies and hospitals within Airlift Northwest’s Puget Sound service area.  The goal of the program is to allow a two way forum for referral agency and Airlift staff to better understand the roles of Airlift and the referral agencies, as well as discuss the challenges that are unique to our setting.

Scheduled shift lengths are limited to 8 hours on one of our 5 Helicopters or 3 Airplanes in Washington and Alaska, though riders should be aware that flights can go well beyond that scheduled time. 

Participants must be fit, agile and able to exit the aircraft quickly without help.  Our work environment requires you to have a body mass index consistent with Airlift Northwest policy for weight, height, and waist size limitations. A busy day may offer little or no time for meals, drinks, or snacks.  You may also encounter turbulence, vibration, noise and extremes of hot and cold during your shift. 

Every attempt will be made to provide participants with a rich experience, but there is no guarantee that you’ll fly.  Observers are not able to participate directly with patient care, however you may be asked to carry equipment or assist with loading the patient at the direct discretion of the crew.

Please note: prior to departure on a flight, the crew will attempt to determine if a family rider will be with the patient.  You may be required to remain at base if this is the case.  Upon arrival at a referring facility, if a family member wishes to ride, you may be left at the referring facility.  Absolutely every attempt will be made to return and pick you up, however, because of situations such as additional flight requests, weather or maintenance, this may not be feasible.  In that event, you will be responsible to make your own arrangements for transport.  Airlift Northwest will help as much as possible.

Airlift retains the right to refuse any rider based on certain situations that may include safety, fuel, weight, impending weather or maintenance.  The on-duty flight crew will ultimately approve any observation opportunity, on a flight by flight basis, based on the operational restrictions for the day.  Airlift does not allow observers to fly from the field on a spontaneous basis.  All observers must be pre-screened for the specific day.  Photography of patients is expressly prohibited.  Photography during flight legs without a patient onboard is at the discretion of the pilot in command.

  • On the day of your visit you will:
    • Be provided a flight suit and helmet to wear for the day
    • Have your personal gear and clothing inspected
    • Have a safety briefing
    • Have a tour of the work facilities
  • You will need to bring:
    • Your own meals. A modest kitchen is available at the base. Ready to eat food is ideal.
    • Personal money or a debit card.
    • A book, or entertainment for "down time" before/after flights.
    • Clothing including:
      • Departmental uniform (nomex) with ID if you have one.
      • Leather work or hiking boots or sturdy athletic shoes.
      • Natural fiber undergarments (cotton or wool etc.) No synthetics.
      • Jacket, hat and gloves appropriate for weather or mountain conditions and forecast for the time you are riding.
      • Please avoid strongly scented products and perfume and minimize large or "dangly" jewelry.

If you are interested in exploring this opportunity please send an email to and attach our Rider data sheet. By submitting your Rider data sheet you agree to all HIPAA patient confidentiality guidelines.

Thank you,

Debbie Morris
Rider Program Administrator

Julie Hoffman RN, BSN, CCRN
Western Washington Regional Manager

Deanna Redmond, RN, BSN, CCRN, CFRN
Flight Nurse, Airlift NW Olympia base manager