I've lived down here for almost 12 years now, and in all that time, I haven't taken the time to watch an operation that happens down here far too often.
This location is pretty remote, at the end of a dead end road which ends where the old ferry dock used to be. It was, at one stage, the only way to get across the Hood Canal. And not that many years ago, while the floating bridge was under repair and closed to traffic, a foot ferry operated from there. Before my time, there was even a local saloon. Now, all that are left are large, paved parking lots.
Large and unobstructed. Perfect as a helicopter landing site, which it has become for emergency airlifts. An ambulance ride to Seattle for major medical care is a couple of hours; by helicopter, a mere 15 minutes.
So a few days ago, as a large Airlift Northwest red machine swept in low over the house, and after hearing numerous sirens screaming down the upper road, I decided it was time to see how this system works. Speed walking the half mile or so along the dirt road that runs above the beach to the landing site, the helicopter had landed and three emergency vehicles had the road blocked off and were unloading someone from one of the ambulances. There are only 5 or 6 houses down there, so very little traffic, but of course just when things should be shut down, a Fedex truck had to get through!
The transfer took a few minutes and it was a surreal scene in the late afternoon, the vehicles red flashing lights illuminating the bush alongside the road. The helicopter and its light reflected from the enormous puddles in the parking lot. After several minutes, the pilot did a pre-flight check, climbed in and rotated, lifting straight up, then banking east, headed off over the Hood Canal, becoming a tiny speck silhouetted against the sky and Cascade mountains.
I think we are all grateful to have the service so handy. However, it is not one I plan to make use of any time soon!
[su_box title="Airlift Northwest" style="glass" box_color="#cde3ed" title_color="#0f0d0d"]Airlift Northwest, a program of the University of Washington School of Medicine and Harborview Medical Center, provides flight transport via helicopter and fixed wing aircraft for patients needing intensive medical care in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.[/su_box]