Detroit Lakes - Becker County Airport Commission approves $748,000 in bids for new medical airlift helicopter hangar
Two bids, totaling $748,137, were approved by the Detroit Lakes-Becker County Airport Commission during their meeting on Monday, Oct. 18, for construction of a new helicopter hangar at the airport. The hangar will be used by Life Link III, pending lease approval, for their 24/7 medical airlift staff. The addition of a permanent Detroit Lakes medical airlift location should reduce call times for emergency services in the area, according to a Life Link III spokesperson.
Improved airlift medical services are one step closer to coming to the Detroit Lakes-Becker County Airport after a meeting at the City Administration building on Monday.
During the Oct. 18 meeting of the airport commission, members approved two bids for a new helicopter hangar, and corresponding site work. The hangar will be used by Life Link III, pending lease approval, for their 24/7 medical airlift staff.
The total cost for the project will be $748,137, which will be financed by Becker County, the city of Detroit Lakes and potential grants from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The preliminary financing split between the entities will be decided during their respective meetings on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20.
"The county seemed to be on board with the idea, and willing to put up some of the financing and the city, with the public utilities and the development authority, were willing to put up part of the financing," said Mark Hagen, chairman of the airport commission. "So, basically, if this all gets approved, we'll be splitting the financing and then it'll all get paid back over 10 years."
The funding entities are only providing the construction costs up front because Life Link III will repay the initial construction costs through a 10-year lease agreement with the airport, which is still pending approval.
Katie Burkhart, director of marketing and communications for Life Link III, said the new proposed hangar and lease with the airport will help ensure that vital medical services are available for every community member, if or when they need them.
"It's such a valuable resource to the community," said Burkhart. "For those critically ill and injured patients it's so important."
It also increases the connecting network of health care provided by Life Link III, which also has helicopter availability in Alexandria, Brainerd and Willmar, she said.
"Whether you're in Detroit Lakes or you are at your cabin, you know that Life Link III has the network to be able to have an aircraft respond, and get you to the place you need to go," said Burkhart.
She added Essentia Health has been a valuable consortium member with Life Link III since 2010, and they look forward to continuing to improve medical services in the area.
"It'd take about 20 minutes to fly from Alexandria and a little less for Fargo, probably, but its no different than fire departments," said Mark Hagen. "You're much better off spreading out some engines, and getting a first arriving engine, than you are having five engines in one place."
The new hangar will include a three bedroom apartment and office area to house the 24/7 medical staff, and other personnel assigned to the airlift unit. Life Link has a similar contract with the Brainard airport, but that site includes a detached mobile home instead of a built-in apartment area.
Hagen said the helicopter unit will also purchase an estimated 15,000 gallons of fuel per year from the airport.
"I can't stress enough how much of a win-win deal this has been," he said. "How good it has been working with (Life Link III), and with the county, and the city, and the airport. When you enter into deals, and you are all interested in making sure it works for the other people, deals tend to go a lot better."
The bid for the site work, which will include a taxiway extension, access road and parking lot construction, along with sewer and water hookups, was won by Hough Inc., of Detroit Lakes, with a bid of $225,137. The site work bid came in about 13% below the initial engineer's estimate.
The winning bid for the hangar construction was awarded to McCall Construction Inc., of Pequot Lakes, with a bid of $523,000, including labor and materials.
Site work construction at the airport is scheduled to begin this fall, with the hangar construction to start once the site work is completed, Hagen said.
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