$100K will be delivered annually to Angel Flight East Kootenay over 5 years
Winston Szeto · CBC News · Posted: Mar 09, 2021
[Excerpts] A volunteer-run B.C. airline is receiving $500,000 from the Regional District of East Kootenay to continue free flight services for people seeking non-emergency medical services outside the region.
On Friday, the district unanimously approved a grant of $100,000 annually for five years for Angel Flight East Kootenay — a Fernie-based charity established in April 2019 — to buy a $400,000 plane and to cover the charity’s operation expenses.
Angel Flight’s planes — which are mostly small single-engine aircraft owned by volunteer pilots — fly to Kelowna from airports in Kootenay communities including Cranbrook, Creston, Golden, Invermere, Nelson and Sparwood.
“Our route is very challenging, and even in our single-engine aircrafts, we have to go up to 12,000 feet [about 3,700 metres], which means we always have to carry oxygen for the patients,” Angel Flight president Brent Bidston said Monday to Chris Walker, host of CBC’s Daybreak South. “With the pressurized aircraft, we don’t have to worry about that.”
Bidston says his charity has operated more than 180 flights over the past two years, helping 127 patients who had medical appointments in the central Okanagan. The flights prioritize cancer patients and children under the age of 15.
Bidston says he hopes non-emergency medical flights will become provincially-funded one day, but says there’s still a long way to go.