LifeFlight celebrating history with Rose Festival float - KPTV - FOX 12

LifeFlight celebrating history with Rose Festival float

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AURORA, OR (KPTV) -

Helicopters and roses don't seem to have a lot in common, but this year in Portland, LifeFlight is celebrating its 35th anniversary, and commemorating the event by creating a float in this year's Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade.

LifeFlight is a non-profit owned by four health systems, including Providence, Legacy and OHSU. It was the first hospital-based flight program on the West Coast and it has no plans of slowing down.

Soon, LifeFlight will roll out the Augusta Westland 119 K-X, which boasts the latest technology for air ambulances. Fifteen of the choppers are set to join LifeFlight's fleet in the coming weeks. Because it is faster and bigger than the current units, it has the potential to save more lives.

Flight nurse Michelle Lavina gave FOX 12 a tour of one of the choppers they're currently using.

She said the new model will allow them to transport two patients instead of one.

The new addition is just one of the many successes the company is celebrating. This year marks its 35th anniversary.

When CEO Michael Griffiths took over six years ago, there were just two LifeFlight bases in the Northwest. There are now 15.

In celebration of its history, LifeFlight's float in the upcoming Rose Festival parade will feature the new chopper, but will also feature survivors who are alive today because of LifeFlight. The survivors will ride on the float with Portland Trail Blazers announcer Bill Schonely.

"I don't ever want to forget why we're here. We're here for one reason and that's to transport patients," said Griffiths, who began his career as a flight nurse and still jumps in the helicopter when the need arises.

"Actually, yesterday I worked in the helicopter. I think it's important. It allows me to continue to see that perspective," he said.

You can support LifeFlight through its subscription programs. Members pay an annual fee and get free flights if they're ever in need of an emergency transport.

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