VIDEO: Seattle Fire, Airlift Northwest’s first helicopter drill at Alki Playfield

2:32 PM: As previewed – the Seattle Fire/Airlift NW drill is under way at Alki Playfield, first of 4 drills in West Seattle this week.

2:41 PM: The helicopter has lifted off. Next drill, 2 pm tomorrow at Walt Hundley Playfield in High Point. Viewing was OK today *around the edges of the field* so it should be tomorrow too.

ADDED 5:31 PM: More details, photos, and video:

Airlift Northwest (corrected) has a base in Bremerton – its helicopter can get here in as little as six minutes and carries trauma nurses as well as blood and plasma.

(Photo by David Hutchinson)

SFD plans to use the four drills – continuing 2 pm Tuesday and Thursday at Walt Hundley, back at Alki 2 pm Wednesday – for different local SFD crews to practice a helicopter transfer. Deputy Chief Ron Mondragon talked about it after today’s drill:

The helicopter was on the ground less than half an hour (longer, though, than it would have taken for an actual patient transfer).

SFD stresses that this kind of transport is expected to be rare – if it’s required at all – but they need to be ready just in case.

8 Replies to "VIDEO: Seattle Fire, Airlift Northwest's first helicopter drill at Alki Playfield"

  • pilsner June 8, 2020 (5:31 pm)

    If anybody is interested in tacking the next few flights. I punched in the tail number, N954AL in my favorite flight tracking website. It appears that it is parked in Arlington and they make a stop at Boeing Field, probably to top off on recycled dinosaurs, then head over the West Sea-town.

  • DJ June 8, 2020 (7:19 pm)

    The closest helicopter is actually based out of Bremerton National Airport. The Aircraft that came today was from their Arlington base. 

    • WSB June 8, 2020 (7:54 pm)

      Thanks, fixed.

  • Barb Schmidt June 9, 2020 (12:41 am)

    It is good to know that Airlift Northwest is based in Bremerton.  But it’s more important to know where they are willing to fly me if I need to be airlifted out of West Seattle to a hospital.  Would they only fly me to Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton?  What about Virginia Mason in Seattle or Kaiser Permanente or Swedish Cherry Hill or Swedish Providence or the UW Medical Center, etc?  I’ve never had to use a medical airlift and don’t know anything about how this works.  Would love to see a WSB article covering such topics as I’m sure many in West Seattle are wondering the same things.  Thanks – love the WSB!

    • WSB June 9, 2020 (12:49 am)

      They’re a partner with UW Medicine, which runs Harborview, which is our region’s trauma center, and you’re not going to wind up in a helicopter unless you need that level of care. (Same as a ground-bound SFD Medic unit – if you need that level of care, you’re going to Harborview.)

    • Trickycoolj June 9, 2020 (2:32 pm)

      If SFD deems you stable enough they’ll call a 3rd party ambulance to transport you and the 3rd party will often ask where you’d like to go. A friend of mine passed out in a local movie theater, once SFD determined he wasn’t having a cardiac event they called for transport and the transporting medics asked where he’d like to go… friend was still a bit loopy so we told them to take him to UW  even though Pill Hill options may have been closer.  We as friends knew he had been to UW before for other treatment. If you have a preference, perhaps because of insurance network, make sure your loved ones know. But if you need Level I Trauma you’re going to Harborview period. 

  • Sjl June 9, 2020 (7:03 am)

    Airlift Northwest is a partner with UW medicine they will transport you anywhere but you need to go. If you are in a helicopter, you will probably go to either a comprehensive stroke center or a trauma center depending on your injury.  Airlft has a membership for $60. It will cover any out-of-pocket expenses you may have for a flight. Pretty good insurance for 60 bucks.

  • Nurses unite June 9, 2020 (10:36 am)

    Thank you airlift and SFD for being creative and serving our West Seattle. 

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