Life Flight Offers Vital Service, Terrific Membership Benefit

Gwen Berry

My recent accident introduced me to how urgently, and unexpectedly, you might need fast transportation to expert medical care. Car accidents and other medical emergencies aren’t planned; they just happen. In a serious emergency, getting to a hospital ASAP can limit further physical damage or even save your life. If an emergency happens a long way from needed medical care, air transport is the safest and most efficient way to get you there.

Our area is fortunate to have such a service readily available to help when needed. Life Flight Network is a nationally recognized, nonprofit air medical transport service that operates across the Pacific Northwest, the Intermountain West, and the Alaska Panhandle. Their fleet consists of helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, and some ground ambulances. They have bases throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, including one right here in Dallesport. They provide ICU-level care and life-saving transport to seriously ill or injured patients from the scene of an emergency or from one hospital to another. Medical staff on Life Flight’s aircraft include a transport critical care flight nurse and paramedic or respiratory therapist. Neonatal teams have specially trained transport neonatal nurses and respiratory therapists. 

Life Flight works hand-in-glove with other emergency medical teams and first responders. They are called to the scene when a medical professional or first responder deems the victim’s illness or injuries  serious enough to require immediate, rapid transport to a hospital. Organizations authorized to call for Life Flight services include law enforcement and rescue agencies, fire departments, ambulance services, hospitals, and other 911 emergency responders.

As one would expect, the cost of operations for this life-saving service is high. It includes the salaries of highly skilled medical professionals, pilots, and maintenance personnel, as well as the purchase and maintenance of aircraft and sophisticated medical equipment. Because of the high cost, bills for their services are also high. Transportation charges start at $19,993 and go up from there, depending on the distance flown and the type of care provided. (The bill for my half-hour ride to the trauma center in Yakima was almost $44,000!) The amount that insurance companies are willing to pay for air transportation varies widely. It often doesn’t come close to covering the bill.

Fortunately, Life Flight offers an inexpensive membership that guarantees there will be no out-of-pocket expense if you or a family member ever needs Life Flight’s emergency air transportation. If you are a member, Life Flight will accept whatever reimbursement they receive from your insurance company and simply write off the rest. Membership is only $65 a year —a very small investment for a very big potential savings and the peace of mind that comes with it. Plus, Life Flight has reciprocal agreements with several other emergency air transport organizations in the western U.S., so your membership will be honored if you need transport by any of them. Life Flight also has a charity program for those who aren’t able to pay or who can’t pay the full amount. 

In addition to providing individual benefits, memberships also form a big part of Life Flight’s financial support; so by becoming a member you are helping keep this important service available. The service is also supported by tax-deductible donations to their related 501(c)(3) foundation, Life Flight Network Foundation.

You really never know when an unexpected emergency will happen; and when it does, you don’t want to be worrying about how you’ll pay for getting needed care ASAP. With a Life Flight membership, you won’t have to think about it. And I can say, now that the unexpected has happened to me, it was the best $65 we’ve ever spent.

To join, call  Membership Services at 800.982.9299, or complete the simple enrollment online at https://www.lifeflight.org/membership/.

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