Air Idaho Rescue has reopened their West Yellowstone airbase for the 2021 season — providing advanced care during emergencies and quick transport times to EIRMC in Idaho Falls.

As the weather warms and more visitors begin to arrive in the Greater Yellowstone area, the number of medical emergencies that require advanced care increases as well. Given the fact that lifesaving care for heart attacks, strokes, or other complex situations requires a visit to a large regional hospital, quick access to a helicopter can make all the difference.

Air Methods, a leading air medical service in the U.S., announced last week that its subsidiary, Air Idaho Rescue, has reopened its West Yellowstone seasonal air medical base serving the greater Yellowstone region. In conjunction with Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, the Air Idaho Rescue base extends care to Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, the Gallatin National Forest, and the Madison River valley. The base officially commenced operations this month, with service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Air Idaho Rescue also keeps a helicopter and crew based in Driggs year-round.

The West Yellowstone base is staffed by Air Idaho Rescue personnel, including experienced flight nurses, flight paramedics, emergency medical services pilots, and mechanics. During the spring, summer, and fall, air medical services are vital for transporting patients from remote areas in and around Yellowstone National Park.

Air medical teams execute lifesaving interventions to care for patients, from providing trauma care after an accident to administering clot-busting medications after a major stroke. The clinical support and speed of transport is critical to ensure patients receive the best and most timely treatment possible. The air ambulance is equipped with a variety of critical care supplies and medications found in a hospital emergency room or intensive care unit. These include items such as oxygen, airway resuscitation equipment, heart monitor/defibrillator, suction, IV pump and fluids, specialized monitor/testing equipment, ventilators, and emergency medications.

Air Methods crews adhere to strict COVID-19 protocols that include full personal protective equipment for crews and decontamination of the aircraft after every transport. The West Yellowstone base is committed to treating and transporting any patient who requires care. All patients who are transported by Air Idaho Rescue also have access to robust patient advocacy services to assist with the post-flight billing process so that they can focus on their recovery.

The West Yellowstone base provides air medical services that result in quicker response times for emergent and trauma situations. The base also supports patients in cooperation with EIRMC’s transport team, resulting in much faster response times to patients in need. EIRMC offers the state’s only Burn Center; the region’s only Level I Intensive Care Unit, Level III Neonatal Intensive Care, and Pediatric Intensive Care units; and the region’s only Joint Commission Certified “Primary Stroke Center” and Behavioral Health Center.

“Since our West Yellowstone base began service in 2014, we have been honored to serve America’s first national park, and to bring our air medical resources to the residents and visitors of the greater Yellowstone region,” said Mike Jenkins, area manager for Air Methods. “A majority of the call volume is tourist-related within the park, which includes trauma from traffic accidents and animal incidents. Our emergency air medical crews are dedicated to bringing critical care to those in need.”