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Banquet nets nearly $300,000 for A.L.E.R.T. fund


The 41st annual A.L.E.R.T. Banquet took place on Saturday, April 27, at the Flathead County Fairgrounds. This year’s theme was “New York, New York: A Night on the Town”, which allowed attendees to don the blitz and bling and dress to the nines. In all, more than 950 people attended this year’s banquet. Live and silent auctions featuring homemade goods, donated art, dinner certificates, wines, guided raft trips and many more items demonstrated the community’s generosity towards the A.L.E.R.T. program, as almost $300,000 was raised during the event.

Gary Mahugh of the Creston Fire Department was honored as the recipient of this year’s Clyde Smith Award. Each year, the award is presented to an Emergency Medical Service or Quick Response Unit member for their dedication, volunteerism, and service towards lifesaving efforts in our community. The award is named in honor of Clyde Smith, who put up his business, Smith Logging, as collateral against the original loan that funded the hospital's purchase of its own helicopter.

A.L.E.R.T. mechanics Drew Bastick and Jared Benz were awarded the Triple Divide Award, which recognizes the outstanding A.L.E.R.T. crew member of the year. Both were nominated by their peers due to their outstanding behind the scenes service.

This year’s highlighted case featured a young logger who was served by both A.L.E.R.T. and Two Bear Air. Kevin Riley was knocked unconscious by a log under pressure from a line machine at his workplace last July. Fortunately, the combined efforts of Two Bear Air and A.L.E.R.T. got Riley to Kalispell Regional Medical Center for life saving surgery in under an hour. Doctors estimate that it was only a matter of ten minutes that saved his life. Read more about Riley’s close call here.

The money raised this year will go towards specialized equipment, training for the flight crew and savings for a replacement helicopter. Everyone connected with A.L.E.R.T. is extremely grateful for the generosity, which goes a long way toward funding the nonoperation needs of the service. Because it is a critical service to our region, Kalispell Regional Medical Center continues to offer the service as a community benefit.

About A.L.E.R.T.

The emergency air transport service always has been supported by the generosity of the local community. It started in 1975 as a cooperative effort among Kalispell General Hospital, the logging industry, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service. Today it is a department of the not-for-profit Kalispell Regional Medical Center, with its hangar located just outside the Emergency Room door.

All money raised for the emergency air transport service throughout the entire year goes into an A.L.E.R.T. fund set up through the Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation.

Tax-deductible contributions may be mailed to:

Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation
310 Sunnyview Lane
Kalispell, MT 59901