Frequently Asked Questions

San Juan County has three commercial air medevac companies which service our communities. Airlift Northwest (ALNW), Island Air Ambulance (IAA), and Life Flight Network (LFN). ALNW is primarily a helicopter medevac service but does have airplanes in its fleet. ALNW is based in cities along the Western coast of Washington State, the closest being Bellingham. Island Air Ambulance provides medevac services via an airplane based in Friday Harbor. LFN provides medevac services with helicopters based out of Port Angeles and Whidbey Island. Airlift Northwest and Island Air have a history of providing services in San Juan County, while Life Flight is new to the area. All companies come with qualified emergency medical crews.

Yes, OIFR recommends that you purchase a membership with all companies.


All three companies are certified to the same level of care and can transport critical patients and severe trauma patients. However, adverse weather and the availability of aircraft are both a consideration when trying to medevac a patient off island. There is no way to predict the weather, the nature of the emergency or aircraft availability. Weather conditions (wind, icing conditions, or fog to name a few) sometimes dictate which medevac provider is able to land an aircraft on Orcas Island and then transport to a medical facility. These same weather conditions may also affect which hospital destination is chosen. There are also times when aircraft are not available because they are already transporting patients and your medical condition warrants an immediate transport. In these cases, the closest available resource is used to transport you to an emergency department/specialty center. Therefore, due to weather or aircraft availability you may be transported by any company servicing our area. All companies offer air medevac memberships and we recommend you participate in all three programs. We encourage you to visit the company's websites to learn more about our partners in patient care.

Yes, but there are potential issues you need to know about. Please read our Calling 911 from Cell or VOIP Phones page for more information.

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