As of Wednesday, April 18, 2018
The LifeFlight crew is opening the doors to its new hangar at the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport for an open house from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 21.
The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce will lead off the celebration with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 12:15 p.m., followed by light refreshments, tours of the facility and a meet-and-greet with flight crews.
“People will be able to see where the crew eats and sleeps and learn more about what they do and the lifesaving equipment they use,” said Jacob Dalstra, regional director of the LifeFlight Network.
LifeFlight is leasing about half of the 15,000 square feet in the flex building, which was constructed in the new business park that has 16 other lots still available. The cost was paid by a nearly $1.2 million revenue bond and a $625,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration.
The other half of the flex building has been leased by TacAero, the fixed base operator for the airport.
“This was a public building, everyone came together to make it happen and we are just so gratified,” said Dalstra.
With the move, LifeFlight has doubled its operating space, which includes living quarters for the nurses, paramedics and pilots on duty round the clock, as well as indoor storage for its plane and helicopter. There is also a mechanic on duty during the day or available for a callout after regular business hours.
In total, there are 19 employees working out of the Dallesport base, said Dalstra.
He said being able to put the aircraft inside the new hangar will save valuable response time in the winter because ice and snow will not have to be removed.
“That just slowed us down,” he said.
When all conditions are go, Dalstra said the LifeFlight helicopter can be off the ground within 7 minutes of getting an emergency call and the plane within 20 minutes.
The plane is used for longer flights because it can travel at 300 miles per hour while the helo goes about 160 miles per hour.
Time is of the essence when a patient has traumatic injuries from a wreck or other accident, or has suffered a cardiac arrest or stroke, the three types of emergencies that LifeFlight is most often called upon for transport.
“We can fly patients anywhere they need to go,” said Dalstra.
LifeFlight offers a membership program so people can avoid the high cost of an air ambulance if they have an emergency. Cost is $65 per year for insurance that will cover the cost of that flight.
“If you live in the Mid-Columbia, I would strongly encourage becoming a member because you just never know,” Dalstra said.