At the Ready and on A.L.E.R.T.

By Beacon Staff

When talking about the importance of Kalispell Regional Medical Center’s A.L.E.R.T. helicopter service, Jim Oliverson thinks back to the story of an injured logger near the Hungry Horse Reservoir. Before the air ambulance was available to rescue at a moments notice, it took hours to get the logger off the mountain and to a waiting ambulance.

A few years ago, the A.L.E.R.T. helicopter crew decided to find out how long it would take for the helicopter to go from the hospital in Kalispell to that remote mountaintop.

Twelve minutes was the answer.

That’s why Oliverson says the air ambulance service is critical to the Flathead Valley and northwest Montana, which is why he’s pushing to get the word out about the 35th annual A.L.E.R.T. Banquet on April 27.

“People can take it for granted, so we love to take the opportunity to talk about why it’s up there,” he said.

The annual banquet is a fundraiser for A.L.E.R.T. and usually attracts about 700 people every year. It includes a silent auction, cash prizes, a cocktail hour and dinner. The program also features a presentation about A.L.E.R.T.’s accomplishments from the past year. Tickets are $300 per couple and are available by calling Lori Alsbury at 752-1710. Tickets can also be purchased from any A.L.E.R.T. board member or the Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation office.

A.L.E.R.T. facts

  • A.L.E.R.T. stands for Advanced Life Support Emergency Rescue Team
  • A.L.E.R.T. was established in 1975 and has rescued more than 1,400 people.
  • In 2012, the A.L.E.R.T. I helicopter logged 321 flight hours on 565 flights
  • Since its inception, A.L.E.R.T. has flown more than 15,500 helicopter missions
  • Each A.L.E.R.T. flight consists of a pilot, paramedic and registered nurse
  • In 2010, the A.L.E.R.T. banquet brought in $105,000 to cover operating costs, specialized equipment and continuing education for its crew.
  • Hollister Larson was one of the founding board members and sold a quarter million dollars worth of banquet tickets during his tenure, earning him the name “Mr. Banquet.”
  • A.L.E.R.T. was the first rural air ambulance service in the country.
  • A.L.E.R.T. has helped more grizzly bear attack victims then any other air ambulance service in the country.
  • A.L.E.R.T. serves all of northwest Montana.

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