September 24, 2008

Angel Flight West Provides Lifeguard Air Support 24/7 During Democratic National Convention

Angel Flight West (AFW), the country's largest volunteer pilot organization arranging and providing, through its volunteer pilot members, free air transportation for non-emergency health care issues, provided around-the-clock support services in connection with Denver's hosting of the Democratic National Convention (DNC).

The AFW operation was based at the Denver Health Hospital and Authority, which was tasked by the United States Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security to handle medical emergencies in support of the Pepsi Center and Invesco Field Convention sites.

From August 25th through August 28th AFW and Denver Health Hospital board member, Kevin P. Kauffman, directed and piloted missions into and out of the Denver Health Level 1 Trauma Center helipads located 1 mile from the DNC Convention Sites flying a Bell 222 helicopter with the call sign "Angel 1." All flights were conducted under the surveillance and coordination of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration and the United States Secret Service.

"As the only civilian aviation group to receive national security clearance to be based inside the 2NM National Defense Airspace which contained Denver Health and the Convention sites, it was a great privilege to provide this unique public health service coordinated by Angel Flight West and Denver Health Hospital," said Kauffman.

In 2005 Angel Flight West joined the Homeland Security Emergency National Transportation System and provided for its Mission Command Pilots to become Certified Pilot First Responders. "These missions underscore the valuable contribution that volunteer general aviation can make to national safety and security," said Alan M. Dias, Executive Director of AFW. "We were pleased to lend our support to the national convention process."

Working with volunteer pilots in privately owned aircraft, AFW coordinates flights for medically stable and ambulatory passenger/patients in need of transportation to and from health care provider sites. The non-profit organization serves 13 western states, including Alaska and Hawaii. AFW relies on public support; volunteer pilots receive no compensation for their time or the use of their aircraft. Founded in 1983, Angel Flight West offers free air transportation in response to health care by linking both volunteer private pilots and commercial airline partners with those that need travel to and from medical facilities throughout the 13 western states, including Alaska and Hawaii. AFW also transports precious cargo such as organs, blood, tissue and medical supplies. The organization arranges free air support for disaster relief efforts in times of crisis and other numerous humanitarian needs. The costs of all flights are donated; there is never a charge for an Angel Flight West mission.