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After installing an air base in Soda Springs, Air Idaho Rescue met us at the tarmac for a ride

Idaho Falls

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Air Idaho Rescue’s Pilatus PC-12 Airplane | Nate Eaton,

IDAHO FALLS — Employees at Air Idaho Rescue know medical emergencies usually happen at inconvenient times in remote areas.

Since 1990, Air Idaho Rescue has helped patients in remote regions of eastern Idaho, southern Montana and western Wyoming. They have three air bases total, located in Driggs, West Yellowstone and Idaho Falls. In April, a new pad was installed at the airport in Soda Springs, making it the fourth air base in Idaho.

Idaho Air Rescue Pilot Shaun Powell tells these air bases are strategically placed to accommodate the high number of calls they receive from people in these areas throughout the year.

“By being on the outskirts of our community, it allows us to be where the patients need us and bring them to a high level of care in a timely manner,” Powell says.

Shaun Powell gives the thumbs up just before take off | Nate Eaton,

Powell is a rotor wing pilot who flies Air Idaho’s Astar 350 helicopter directly to the scene of the accident, helps load the patient, and quickly transports them to the nearest hospital in Idaho, Wyoming, or Utah as a nurse treats them en route.

Becky Rees, a registered nurse with Air Idaho, says a flight certified RN and medic is aboard every flight. The majority of patients they treat during the summer, she says, are tourists who live at or below sea level.

“A lot of the patients we see have respiratory or cardiac issues. So, we’re able to intervene and get them what they need to stay alive,” Rees says.

Heart attack and stroke victims are other common patients they encounter.

Air Idaho Rescue owns three helicopters and a Pilatus PC-12 Airplane to respond to emergencies. James Jarvie is a registered nurse on the airplane’s medical crew. He says they can use the aircraft in many different ways.

“We’ve had a helicopter go to an area where there’s multiple patients. We’ll land at the nearest airport and they’ll bring us a patient. We’ll then go to the hospital with that patient while they go back and get another patient.”

Jarvie says the vast majority of calls have a positive outcome for the patient. Air Idaho Rescue also helps patients by transporting them from one hospital to another when certain medical services are not available.

The passengers onboard these flights are not usually there by choice, but when Air Idaho offered us a ride, we were fortunate to get aboard of our own free will and choice.

View of Idaho Falls from the Astar 350 helicopter 1,100 feet in the air | Nate Eaton,