OSF Life Flight to open Rock Falls base
Order of Saint Francis Life Flight (OSF Life Flight) will establish a new medical helicopter base at Whiteside County Airport in Illinois
The operator has signed a letter of commitment stating its intent to build the Rock Falls base and is expected to sign a 10-year lease in the near future, according to the Shaw Local News Network.
The establishment of the base, which includes the construction of a new hangar costing between US$700,000 and $800,000, is expected to be primarily funded by the county government. The majority of funding will be provided via the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), with the remainder supplied by the airport.
The base is expected to provide around 16 jobs, including pilots, flight nurses, paramedics and maintenance workers. Once established, services will be on a 24-hour basis.
Third base since 2021
According to Jen Wilkes, OSF Aviation Outreach Coordinator, the hangar could be built ‘as soon as July’, with the ‘goal of having crew stationed there in a year’.
OSF Life Flight wants to cut medical transport times for patients in the Sauk Valley region. The provider previously operated a medical helicopter from Whiteside County Airport between July and December on a temporary basis, but ceased operations due to a pilot shortage. However, the organization expects this to be resolved before the new base opens.
The base will join three existing ones in the cities of Bloomington, Galesburg and Peru. It is part of a rapid expansion by the operator – the Bloomington base opened in September 2021, Galesburg in June 2022.
Elsewhere, Native Air opened new bases in Show Low and Cottonwood, Arizona, in late 2022.