Frequently Asked Questions

KRMC Emergency Care
What does A.L.E.R.T. stand for?
Advanced Life-support and Emergency Rescue Team.

How long has the A.L.E.R.T. program been around?
Since 1975.

How many total flights has the program done?
More than 13,000.

How are flights determined?
On call, first come, first served. Caller requests helicopter to a scene or hospital for transport. Specific protocols determine whether interfacility transport requires rotor or fixed wing. A patient may be transported to and from any hospital as long as the final destination is an equal or higher level of care.

Who can call for the helicopter?
Fire, emergency medical services, law enforcement, hospitals and any other personnel as determined by local and regional protocols.

Who is in the aircraft during a flight?
The A.L.E.R.T. I helicopter carries a pilot, flight nurse and paramedic.

How does A.L.E.R.T. interact with area ambulance services, fire agencies and local hospitals?
A.L.E.R.T. provides safety in-service training as well as other requested continuing education, including run/case reviews and any requested educational material review. Landing zone safety in-service training is provided on an annual basis.

Does the hospital own the aircraft?
The Bell 407 is owned and operated by Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

Who is responsible for maintenance?
There is a full-time mechanic at each site dedicated to the aircraft maintenance 365 days a year with 24-hour availability. All mechanics are certified.

How often is maintenance performed?
The aircraft is checked daily, with preventive maintenance performed at regular intervals. Unscheduled maintenance is completed as efficiently as possible to minimize out-of-service time. All components are inspected, overhauled or replaced based on specified time limits.

How does the helicopter transfer differ from that of an ambulance?
There is usually less room to work in the helicopter. Air ambulances offer a more rapid transport, especially out of the backcountry. The helicopter carries more advanced equipment and a wider array of medications. The crew is trained to perform advanced medical procedures. Aircraft can bring advanced specialty trained team members to a location or facility, instead of bringing the patient to another facility.

What is the A.L.E.R.T. service area?
A.L.E.R.T. responds within 150 nautical miles from Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

What is a scene call? What is involved and how is it different from hospital transports?
The helicopter responds directly to an accident scene, landing on a highway, parking lot or field. It requires more coordination of ground personnel as well as high alert of flight crew to fly into an area that may not normally have aircraft landing. Crew must be constantly observing for obstacles while inbound (wires, trees, signs, blowing debris, other aircraft, etc.). Traffic around the aircraft must be controlled by ground security (fire, emergency medical services or law enforcement). Hospital transports involve landing at a helipad right at the hospital or very close by.

Do you use specialty equipment or personnel for different cases?
Isolette transports are available and require specialty personnel for transport.

How often does the crew train?
Ongoing education is done formally on a monthly basis, as well as informally. Monthly meetings include case reviews, education, review of statistics and updates from A.L.E.R.T. leadership. Annual training includes a skills lab, obstetrics and neonatal intensive care unit training, air medical helicopter safety, water egress training and water rescue ring training. Winter survival training is done every other year.