Life Flight staffing up, adding more aircraft ahead of solar ecl - KPTV - FOX 12

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Life Flight staffing up, adding more aircraft ahead of solar eclipse

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With less than a week to go until the solar eclipse sweeps across Oregon, first responders are finalizing plans to be ready to help anyone in need.

Monday afternoon from the Aurora Airport, Life Flight air ambulance announced they’re increasing the number of aircraft and crews for the weekend.

“In addition to having the usual helicopters in Cottage Grove, Newport, Aurora, and Redmond, we will be basing a helicopter in Lincoln City, Baker City, and a second in Redmond Friday through Tuesday,” said Justin Dillingham, the chief customer officer for Life Flight. “On the day of the eclipse, we will move resources from out of the area into the path of totality. We’ll have a helicopter in Salem and in Lebanon.”

He also said they will increase staffing in Idaho.

“Every available resource we have available will be staffed,” said Life Flight Regional Director Jake Dalstra.

Life Flight leaders said they will likely be utilized more than usual because of expected traffic impacts from the estimated one million visitors headed to Oregon.

“I anticipate that we are going to see us being utilized in emergencies that maybe, typically would go with an ambulance but because of traffic they are going to utilize our services more,” Dalstra said.

He adds they also expect to see busier skies as well. Dalstra says their aircraft are equipped with special equipment to keep tabs on other helicopters and planes nearby.

“When you are flying in an around the smaller airports where you normally wouldn’t hear radio traffic it will be important to listen up because there are probably going to be more people in those patterns,” said Life Flight pilot B.J. Miles.

Staffing has been increased in Life Flight's communications center, and they will have additional medical crews on duty 24-7 to respond on fixed-wing aircraft if smoke from the wildfires prevents the helicopters from flying.

The company reports it is also possible they may be called upon to move patients from local hospitals to those further away to prevent overcrowding.

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