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Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation
*Join us for the virtual A.L.E.R.T. Social Distancing Ball! 

History of the Program

In the spring of 1975, a young logger sustained a critical head injury in a remote area and was transported by the only means available, a helicopter patterned after the kind used during the Korean War. This style of transport did not allow for treatment during flight and unfortunately the young man died. This tragedy led to the development of a coordinated, hospital-based helicopter rescue system culminating in what is now known as the Advanced Life-support and Emergency Rescue Team (A.L.E.R.T., KALISPELL REGIONAL HOSPITAL).

The First 40 Years

The A.L.E.R.T., KALISPELL REGIONAL HOSPITAL program started as the second hospital-based advanced life support helicopter system in the United States and the first of its kind in rural America. A.L.E.R.T., KALISPELL REGIONAL HOSPITAL faced financial difficulties in 1978. The local community rose to this potential crisis with the formation of the A.L.E.R.T. Board, comprised of community members from businesses, primary rescue, logging, and Park and Forest Service. Some Board members and their families provided the initial funding to purchase the first helicopter.

Anticipating the need for a more widespread effort for community financial support, the Board established the annual A.L.E.R.T., KALISPELL REGIONAL HOSPITAL banquet. Proceeds from this event, coupled with generous financial support from community donors, have sustained the program for more than 40 years.


A.L.E.R.T. staff
  • A.L.E.R.T., KALISPELL REGIONAL HOSPITAL is a unique air ambulance service in that:
    • It responds to the scene of the emergency call.
    • It picks up patients in the backcountry, roads/highways and facilities, not just at other hospitals like most other services.
    • It will go when called without confirmation of ability to pay.
    • It will go to the scene when called and will not charge a patient if air transport was not needed.
    • It accepts the insurance coverage patients have and does not bill them for the full balance of the charge.
    • It has trained flight nurses and paramedics on the flight team.