Air Life closes base, ends operations

By Kelly Ducote, The Observer January 06, 2014 08:38 am

New air ambulance provider Air Life has ended operations in Union County.

Air Life, which started its service Oct. 8, closed its based effective immediately Friday, according to Lynette Sharp, regional clinical manager for Air Life's parent company Air Methods in Idaho.

Sharp confirmed Monday morning that the base recently established in Ontario was also closed but could not provide any further information.

Union County Commissioner Steve McClure said the county had not been notified of the closure but that Union County Emergency Manager JB Brock was looking into the matter.

Air Life had made a request that the county implement a rotation system so that emergency calls for air ambulance service would be split between Life Flight Network and Air Methods. In an October hearing on the issue, La Grande Fire Chief Bruce Weimer, who is in charge of dispatching air ambulances in the county, said there are usually only two or three calls a month for emergency air service.

"The recommendation was not to do (a rotation). It would have been more trouble keeping track of the rotation," McClure said. "We had not made that final decision. That was the discussion we were having."

Air Methods, operating as Air Life, announced this past summer they would be establishing a base in La Grande. That announcement followed a legal battle between Life Flight and Air Methods. A Marion County judge issued a temporary restraining order  in June concerning a breach of contract. That contract, under which Air Methods provided aircraft and some staffing for Life Flight, ended July 31.

A representative for Air Methods did not immediately return a message for comment.

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