|Northwoods Airlifeline provides a unique type of air transportation for medical purposes only to residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Northeast Wisconsin. Priority services are long-distance transport of chronically ill patients and urgent transport of prospective transplant recipients. All requests for services are evaluated on a case-by-case basis based on available resources.
Persons utilizing the services of Northwoods Airlifeline generally must be in a time-critical situation, unable to reasonably travel by other means, or financially distressed. Transplants and other urgent conditions always take priority and may result in cancellation of existing appointments if additional pilots and planes are not available. All recipients must be ambulatory, require minimal physical assistance, and not require advanced life support. All planes used are unpressurized and therefore unsuitable to patients with certain afflictions.
The number of passengers transported with a patient is limited by available space. In some cases there may not be space for anyone other than the patient. Those transported must arrange and finance their own ground transport and lodging at the destination. In some cases, a patient may need to travel to his or her destination earlier or return later than necessary in order to share a trip with someone else having an appointment at a slightly different time.
Travel destinations are in the Midwest only, and frequent destinations include Ann Arbor, MI; Madison, WI; and Rochester, MN . All services are nonprofit and supplied by volunteer pilots. Pilots absorb most of their significant flight costs – often using their own aircraft – although the organization owns two planes and receives donations from community organizations and individuals for fuel, dispatch, hangars, and aircraft expenses.
Trips may be arranged in response to referrals from medical providers and professional agencies or by individuals who contact Northwoods Airlifeline themselves to set up an urgent or eventual trip. For emergency trips, pilots are available 24 hours a day, including holidays, with responses to phone calls typically made within 15 minutes.