SEARHC Medevacs Turned Over To Private Company

A Guardian Flight turboprop prepares to take off from Skagway’s airport last summer. The company is taking over all medevacs for the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. Photo courtesy Guardian Flight on Facebook.
A Guardian Flight turboprop prepares to take off from Skagway’s airport last summer. The company is taking over all medevacs for the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. Photo courtesy Guardian Flight on Facebook.

Guardian Flight takes over all SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium medevacs on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Guardian, based in Utah, already covers night service for the Sitka-based medical provider. SEARHC operated its own medevacs 12 hours a day up until now.

SEARHC Chief Operating Officer Dan Neumeister says a contract signed last week puts Guardian in charge of all medical evacuations.

“Guardian will be responsible for providing services wherever our clinics are. So at Angoon, (if) you need to fly out on a float plane, they’ll be responsible for either providing their own float plane or subcontracting out and getting a plane, putting their people on it and going to get our patients,” he says.

SEARHC laid off the nurses who staffed their own medevacs.

Guardian is Alaska’s largest medical evacuation operation, with bases in eight cities, including Sitka.

Neumeister says turning all medevacs over to Guardian will be simpler and more efficient.

“We had tried to perform the services ourselves part of each day. And we found that that was not as effective, even though we had very dedicated employees providing the service,” he says.

SEARHC has cut several programs this year to save money.

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Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.