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Decorah Airport soon will be the permanent base for Gundersen MedLink helicopter

Posted: Sun, Jun 4, 2017 3:11 PM
Gundersen MedLink helicopter landing at the Decorah airport

Gundersen Health System added a second MedLink AIR helicopter last summer that has been stationed at the Decorah airport during the day.
This fall the Gundersen MedLink AIR helicopter will have a permanent base at the Decorah airport. Until then it flies to La Crosse each night, where the garage is.  Every morning mechanics do their daily work on the helicopter before it takes off on another flight.
September 1st is the target date for the MedLink AIR helicopter hangar to be completed at the Decorah airport.  It will contain sleeping quarters for the crew as well as a kitchen area.
Paramedic Mike Ashbacher is looking forward to the convenience of a commute that is just a few minutes from his home, when the hangar is completed, instead of the over hour-long commute he has been driving to La Crosse.
"I think this could be a great asset for the region, especially the Decorah area, to have a helicopter transport service located right in our community. It brings that level of care closer to us when we need it," said Ashbacher.
Last year the helicopter made 600 transports according to Gundersen MedLink AIR program director Stephanie Hill. "When there are patients with time sensitive situations, having the option of a 20-minute flight can be critical," added Hill.  "We are on track for those numbers this year as we have had 225 flights so far, with 29 of those from the Decorah area."
"We knew northern Iowa and Decorah would be a popular area and we've extended our care into Southeastern Minnesota and Eastern Iowa. The response has been great.  We are grateful for the collaboration with the city and airport commission. The community support has been amazing," commented Hill.

Staff L to R: RN Kara, Pilot John Clements, Paramedics Mike Ashbacher and Kenny Monteith
View from inside the helicopter
View from the back of the helicopter
The future site of the helicopter hangar, to be built in between the two buildings