WENATCHEE — The trip from Pangborn Memorial Airport to Chelan takes just 15 minutes. Leavenworth is 12 minutes away and Quincy only takes 10.
With its twin-engine helicopter, Airlift Northwest can reach a critical patient, perform emergency medicine and transport them to a hospital faster than virtually anyone.
And now, after a 12-year absence, the organization on Monday established a permanent base in the Wenatchee Valley.
“Being able to respond quicker for the transport needs of Confluence (Medical Center) and the other facilities in Central Washington was important to us,” said Jonas Landstorm, the organization’s Central Washington regional manager.
“So when we looked at the places where we could put in an additional aircraft, we felt that Wenatchee would be a good central location to be able to support the area.”
Airlift had a base here from the 1990s to 2007, but since then they’ve served the Wenatchee area using aircraft stationed in Yakima or the Seattle area.
But now there’s a crew stationed at Pangborn 24/7, always ready to take off from their base next to the Executive Flight building.
The non-profit organization is run by the University of Washington’s healthcare program, said Base Manager Suzanne Beck.
“Just because we’re under that umbrella doesn’t mean we take everyone to Seattle, we take patients wherever they need to go,” she said. “In this area, Confluence is a very highly functioning facility, so most of the volume from our general area will come into here.”
In addition to bringing in patients from emergency scenes, Airlift also transports between facilities.
That’s why the organization’s new base in Wenatchee is so important, Landstorm said.