One of Juneau’s three air ambulance services is set to close its base in the capital city at the end of the month, but will continue to provide service to patients in the area, officials told the Empire.
LifeMed Alaska, a nonprofit air medical service, has been providing medical evacuation services to Juneau since opening its base hangar near the Juneau International Airport in the spring of 2017.
The base held two Lear jets, each of which can accommodate two patients. The company employed eight pilots, eight flight nurses and emergency medical technicians in Juneau, according to previous reporting.
According to Shannon Martin, LifeMed Alaska’s marketing and public relations manager, the choice to suspend LifeMed Alaska’s Juneau-based operation was not the company’s decision. She did specify what factors led to the closure or the expected date of closure.
“Due to circumstances out of our control, LifeMed Alaska has had to suspend asset-based operations in Juneau,” Martin wrote in a message to the Empire.
However, Martin stated the nonprofit’s other bases throughout Alaska will continue to serve Southeast Alaska. Those bases include Anchorage, Bethel, Dutch Harbor, Fairbanks, Kodiak, Palmer and Soldotna, according to the company’s website. Martin did not specify if the air medical service’s timelines are expected to be affected by the closure.
With the base’s suspension, Airlift Northwest and Guardian Flight will become the only two air ambulance services based in Juneau.
According to Erin Hardin, director of marketing and communications for Bartlett Regional Hospital, last year the hospital recorded 320 patients who were medically evacuated in Juneau using one of the three services.
She said the number of patients that are medically evacuated each year typically ranges from 300-600 and noted the hospital sees a “notable uptick” in the number of patients requiring the service during the cruise ship season.
“It’s a direct impact,” she said.
Hardin said despite LifeMed Alaska closing its base in Juneau, Bartlett does not have concerns about the service’s availability as it will continue to provide service to Juneau.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or (651)-528-1807.