Brent Bidston is the president of Angel Flight East Kootenay. Black Press file photo.

Brent Bidston is the president of Angel Flight East Kootenay. Black Press file photo.

Angel Flight East Kootenay seeks RDEK funding support

Elected officials with the regional district have asked staff to look at providing some funding support for a local volunteer medevac service based out of the Elk Valley.

Brent Bidston, with Angel Flight East Kootenay, gave a presentation to the Regional District of East Kootenay describing the purpose of the volunteer medical transport service, and outlining the challenges faced by rural patients who must travel for specialist medical appointments in Kelowna.

The volunteer service, operational since early 2019, has provided approximately 160 flights for patients from the East Kootenay requiring medical appointments in the Okanagan, which has been accomplished by raising $58,000 in donations.

“We drop off patients that need to be there for several days. We do take treat-and-return patients where we’ll wait for them and take them back the same day and we bring back patients that were taken up by air ambulance and have no way to get home,” said Bidston.

Angel Flight East Kootenay has volunteers, and volunteer pilots, in places around the region, including such as Invermere, Cranbrook, Creston and Nelson.

However, the next step is acquiring a pressurized, twin-prop aircraft that can handle some more adverse weather challenges, such as a Cessna 340 or Cessna 414.

“Looking forward, we can just carry on the way we are, and that’s certainly one option and we will continue to do that, but we lose a lot of flights due to the weather and our main problem is the lack of an aircraft that is certified to fly forecast icing conditions,” Bidston said.

“We do have several highly qualified pilots within our group that could fly such an aircraft. Operationally, from our point of view, the aircraft would help us with weather, with the terrain we have to fly over, and because of the altitude we have to go to, we have to have oxygen on board these aircraft. That is not for medical purposes, it is to comply with aviation law, we do not provide medical services on board.”

Such an aircraft comes with a capital cost of approximately $400,000.

“This will help us address every one of our problems,” added Bidston. “It won’t work in all weather conditions, but a lot more than we have at the moment, a lot better than what we’ve got.”

Though Bidston didn’t articulate what kind of financial support the organization was seeking from the RDEK, the board voted to put the issue to staff to assess the potential budgetary impact for providing funding support to Angel Flight East Kootenay.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.
South Columbia Search and Rescue called in the Nelson Search and Rescue and Kootenay Valley Helicopters to provide a long line rescue. Photo: BCSAR submitted.
Long-line rescue needed for injured hiker near Trail

Members of South Columbia and Nelson SAR and Kootenay Valley Helicopters did a long-line evacuation

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Caleb Wykes, Jade Daniel and Alicia Dennis celebrate Australia Day at the Fernie Hotel and Pub. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
Fernie Hotel celebrates the land down under

Sausages sizzled and Vegemite was spread as The Fernie Hotel celebrated Australia Day on Jan. 26.

Teck today announced the development of a new centralized office building in Sparwood, B.C. File photo
What’s in a brand? Sparwood logo turns 10

The five-point star and branding has adorned the district’s properties since 2011

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kamloops hospital grows to 66 cases

A majority of cases remain among staff at Royal Inland Hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon for COVID vaccine ineligible for 2nd dose until summer

Health officials planning new measures to ensure people verify where they live before inoculation

(File)
Mask dispute in court leaves Vancouver cop with broken leg

Man allegedly refused to put on a mask and resisted arrest

Most Read