Tuesday, May 18, 2010

$50 Peace of Mind

What's fifty bucks buy these days?  Not a whole heck of a lot, actually.  Up here in Idaho, fifty bucks can buy a whole lot of Peace of Mind.  For that small sum, you can buy an annual family membership in your local Life Flight operation.  Here in Idaho Falls, it's EIRMC's Air Idaho rescue (A.I.R).  They fly a hotrod Agusta A109K2 chopper (right) that's rated up to 19,000 feet MSL!  A.I.R. is the only North American operator of this craft.
The really cool thing about Idaho Life Flights is that most of them recognize each other's annual memberships.  So, the mega hospital in Idaho is Saint Luke's based in Boise.  St. Luke's reciprocates with A.I.R.  We'll take about what that means in a minute.  St. Luke's flies a Bell 430 (left) which is a huge Cadillac chopper.  It doesn't have as high a ceiling as the Agusta but it's pretty much the Gold Standard of American Life Flight operations.
OK, so what does this mean to John & Susun?  Well, when you put yourself  "out there" into legit MOAN Country, you start to do a lot of thinking about emergency services and so forth.  What's gonna happen if you get into trouble?  The prudent backcountry visitor is ALWAYS thinking of these things.  How would you notify someone if you had an emergency?  How would you get out of a predicament?  Where's the nearest medical care?  How would you get there?

In a lot of cases, a Life Flight spells the difference between life and death.  It's that simple.

Since we're gonna be deep in MOAN Country a big chunk of this year, we decided yesterday to once again rejoin and pay our annual membership.  This time we paid to EIRMC's A.I.R operation.  We also called St. Luke's flight line in Twin Falls to verify reciprocity and area of coverage.

Here's how it goes:  A.I.R. covers pretty much the whole Salmon River Country from Challis into the east side of the Frank Church Wilderness.  They also cover up over Lost Trail Pass into the Bitterroot Valley.  They cover the whole COntinental Divide pretty much down to Pinedale, Wyoming.  They cover all of Yellowstone clear over to Cody, Wyoming, and also the Grand Teton National Park and the Bridge-Teton National Forest east of Jackson Hole.  They cover Arco, Mackay, etc.  Meanwhile, Portneuf Life Flight is a partner and Portneuf out of Pocatello cover all the way down south of Malad and all of that rough country east of Pocatello.  Portneuf splits coverage of the Albion Mtn., Range with St. Luke's.  St. Luke's covers from Arco to Boise and from Stanley down to the Utah line, including all of the outlandish MOAN Country in the Owyhee's.

So, what this means is that every fly speck of country we will be working or recreating in this summer is completely and totally covered by our primary partner or one of their reciprocating partners.  Now, folks, that giant peace of mind for a mere fifty bucks.  Wouldn't you agree?

Cheers, jp

We included a photo of the Agusta in its ski rig here at right.  The chopper in service here has a different paint job but it flies the same skis.

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