New medical transport airplane is in service for Central and Eas - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New medical transport airplane is in service for Central and Eastern Washington

Posted: Updated:
Pilatus PC-12 turboprop airplane Pilatus PC-12 turboprop airplane

Yakima, WA - A new state-of-the-art airplane is now in service.  Unveiled on March 21st, the aircraft provides transport services to critically ill and injured people.  In service through Airlift Northwest, a local air medical transport provider, the new plane helps medical care professionals make patients feel more comfortable during highly critical moments.

The new Pilatus PC-12 turboprop plane is equipped with technology to make it fly faster and smoother than the AeroCommander turboprop plane it replaced. 

"It's fully de-iced, so we can fly into the clouds in the winter time, and we have radar on board, so if there's nasty weather out there we can try to go around it and make it a more comfortable ride for the patient," said Erik Scott, pilot with Airlift Northwest.

The Pilatus came off the assembly line less than a year ago and is based in Yakima at McAllister Field.  The hangar for the plane includes quarters for its crew of two nurses and a pilot.  The nurses work 24-hour shifts and are ready to jump into action at any moments notice.  

Airlift Northwest responds to areas like Yakima, Tri-Cities, Wenatchee, Zillah, Moses Lake, Sunnyside, Toppenish, Ellensburg, Omak, and many more all across Central and Eastern Washington.

After picking up a patient from a location, the team of two nurses takes over all the medical care for the patient until the pilot arrives at their destination, like trauma or specialist centers in Seattle, Portland, Spokane, or even out of state if necessary.

"We check all of our medical equipment every morning to be ready to go at a moments notice, we carry pagers, and pagers go off, and we are out ready to go within five minutes," said Joy Gaddis, nurse with Airlift Northwest.

The first hour after trauma or medical emergency, is is considered the "golden hour of medicine" and is the time where most life-saving work can be done. Not only is the Pilatus equipped with the same resources you would find inside a hospital's intensive care unit or emergency room, it also provides more space and comfort for the patient(s), family members, and nurses inside.  

This May, Airlift Northwest will be adding a helicopter to its roster of air medical transport providers.  The helicopter will help medical care providers get care to people in even harder to reach places throughout Central and Eastern Washington.

Airlift Northwest is a non-profit organization through UW Medicine.  Yakima is Airlift Northwest's second busiest base out of all six bases they operate out of throughout the Pacific Northwest.