Life Flight temporarily pulls out of Newport

The Life Flight helicopter is pictured on the helipad at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport. (Photo by Steve Card)

Move caused by undisclosed complaint from Life Flight

NEWPORT — Life Flight Network, the medical air transport service with a presence on the central coast, is pulling out of the area temporarily after an unspecified complaint from Life Flight.

According to multiple city officials, the local Life Flight crew relocated operations to Corvallis and will move back to Newport after the city completes an investigation into the complaints the Life Flight crew has about an issue they had in the terminal building at the Newport Municipal Airport. 

“We got a specific complaint from Life Flight, and we’re still interviewing people,” Newport City Manager Spencer Nebel told the News-Times on Monday. “We should have something completed by the end of the week.”

While no details were given as of press time on Tuesday about the complaint from Life Flight, Nebel said after the city completes its investigation into the accusations, Life Flight will relocate back to Newport, although Life Flight staff might not be able to come back immediately. 

“It might be a little longer before they resume use of the terminal building,” Nebel said. “We understand there are security concerns. Those need to be addressed satisfactorily for them to come back.”

City, law enforcement and airport officials in Newport, as well as Life Flight executives, wouldn’t give details about the complaint this week, only saying safety issues were at stake. No source went on the record to discuss what the complaint was, who made the complaint or who the complaint was against. Life Flight officials only said the air transport service plans to get back to Newport as soon as possible. 

“We are committed to providing service to the citizens of Newport,” said Jacob Dalstra, regional vice president of Life Flight Network. “We are still responding to the central coast and still have aircraft available to help in emergencies. We’re anxious to resume services in Newport again.”

Dalstra said the local Life Flight crew’s response time will now be 23 minutes with the relocation to Corvallis. 

“We have great working relationships with hospitals and medical agencies,” Dalstra said. “We’re working together to get people to medical care as soon as possible.”

Life Flight launched in the late 1970s at Emanuel Hospital in Portland before expanding to include 25 bases in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, complete with medical crews and helicopters. As of June 2018, the Newport Life Flight crew included four nurses, four paramedics and four pilots, as well as two engineers and a customer service manager. 

 

Cheri Brubaker of the News-Times contributed to this story.

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