SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Airlift Northwest Initiates Scholarship Program for Emergency Responders


October 11, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - Airlift Northwest announced today that it will offer a new scholarship and grant program to honor six staff members who lost their lives in the line of duty with the organization.

On September 29, 2005, an Airlift Northwest helicopter was lost in Puget Sound off Edmonds, Washington taking the lives of the pilot, Steve Smith and two flight nurses, Erin Reed and Lois Suzuki. No patients were on board at the time. Ten years earlier, on September 11, 1995, an Airlift Northwest helicopter went down off Bainbridge Island, Washington. Pilot Lee Bothwell and flight nurses Marna Fleetwood and Amy Riebe were lost in that accident. Again, no patients were on board.

"These accidents were extremely tragic, both for the families of those who were lost and for our family at Airlift Northwest," said Stephen Lewis, CEO. "We've been considering for some time the best way to honor these six brave people who gave their lives in service to others. A program that provides assistance with training and education to others who are committed to emergency medical services seems the perfect solution."

The new program includes three components:

  • A scholarship program for members of the emergency medical services community to be used for EMS-related education that expands their knowledge and capability, with the recipients returning to their agencies to share what they have learned.
  • A scholarship program for critical care nurses to be used for clinical education that expands their knowledge and capability, with the recipients returning to their agencies to share what they have learned.
  • A grant program for agencies and hospitals to improve safety practices or equipment related to air medical services.

Airlift Northwest will give out grants and scholarships each year beginning early in 2007 with five $1,000 awards in each category, for a total commitment of $15,000.

Airlift Northwest began when a tragic house fire in Sitka, Alaska, claimed the lives of five children before they could be safely transported for care. Dr. Michael Copass, Airlift Northwest President and Medical Director who also serves as Director of Emergency Services at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, was teaching in Sitka at the time and was called into the local emergency room to help care for the children. He returned to Seattle, determined to find a way to provide air medical transport to areas around Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Airlift Northwest was the result of this effort and celebrates its 25th anniversary next year.

In Alaska, two fixed-wing Learjet 35As, with a cruising speed of 500 MPH and a range of 1500 miles, are based in Juneau and Ketchikan. In addition, Airlift Northwest can land at some smaller communities in Southeast Alaska, including Haines, Kake, Klawock, Yakutut and Gustavus (weather and daylight permitting).

Steve Lewis, CEO of Airlift Northwest, was the guest speaker at the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce today.


Related Story:

Airlift Northwest upgrading local services By Marie L. Monyak - Wednesday evening Airlift Northwest, an emergency air medical transportation organization, hosted the monthly After Hours event at Steamers Restaurant. After Hours is a once a month networking activity sponsored by the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce to allow members to better understand the workings of the business hosting the event in a casual and relaxed setting accompanied by light refreshments and hor de' oeuvres. - More...
May 04, 2006

Source of News:

Airlift Northwest

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Ketchikan, Alaska