Air ambulance collaboration needed more than ever

We must be stewards of our precious health care resources, including air ambulance programs.

The March 12 Beachcomber article, “Changes to AirCare may impact islanders,” reports on Airlift Northwest’s recent decision to terminate reciprocal membership agreements with other air ambulance programs. Airlift Northwest says these agreements aren’t needed and no longer serve their purpose. We couldn’t disagree more.

As your readers know, air ambulances are a critical lifeline for Vashon-Maury Island residents and others who live in rural areas, particularly in the face of COVID-19. The air ambulance community came together more than 20 years ago and established reciprocal agreements that allow us to provide this crucial protection to more people in the communities we serve. That’s why Life Flight Network is committed to reciprocal agreements and proud to have several in place with programs including Air St. Luke’s, Care Flight, Enloe Flight Care and Classic Air Medical.

Airlift Northwest’s sudden decision to stop covering members when transported by another air ambulance program like Life Flight Network apparently was based on a legal interpretation not shared by most of the industry and was made without any input or discussion.

The unprecedented COVID-19 crisis implores us all to work together to protect the health of our citizens, community, and world. We must be stewards of our precious health care resources, including air ambulance programs, and provide as much peace of mind as possible for those whom we serve.

We call on Airlift Northwest to reconsider their decision and begin honoring memberships of other air ambulances in service of the overall health of our region. In the meantime, we remain committed to jointly serving communities like Vashon Island and we encourage your readers to learn more about our membership program by visiting:

— Jacob Dalstra, regional vice president, LifeFlight