Airlift Northwest is adding a turboprop aircraft to its Juneau-based fleet Wednesday.
The medical transport service, which flies critically ill or injured people from outlying communities to medical centers in Anchorage and Seattle for treatment, is stationing a Turbo Commander at Juneau International Airport.
According to Airlift Northwest, the Turbo Commander will be better suited to serving communities with small airports and short runways, such as Gustavus, Haines, Hoonah, Kake and Skagway, than the Learjet it currently operates.
“Airlift Northwest is dedicated to saving lives by providing pre-hospital emergency treatment on the ground and in the air,” said Chris Martin, executive director, in a news release Tuesday. “In response to requests for improved access to medical transport from providers in Southeast Alaska, we are pleased to offer this new service.”
“The turboprop will allow us to access patients who, in the past, have had to make their way to an area where we could get them in the Learjet. Now we won’t see that delay,” added Dr. Richard Utarnachitt, medical director for Airlift Northwest.
Airlift Northwest operates in five Washington cities, as well as Juneau. Its fleet includes three Eurocopter helicopters, an Agusta helicopter, two Learjets and two Turbo Commander aircraft.
The Turbo Commander based in Juneau will have two critical care nurses assigned to provide care to patients in transit, according to the release.
Like Harborview Medical Center, a common destination for Seattle-bound patients from Southeast Alaska, Airlift Northwest is an entity of the University of Washington School of Medicine.