"How Others Do It": 40-Mile Air Runs Medevacs Out Of Tok Through A Private Company

Plane at Tok Airport (Photo taken last July by Copper River Country Journal)   40-Mile Air Runs A Tok-Based Medevac Service That Supplements...

Plane at Tok Airport (Photo taken last July by Copper River Country Journal) 

 40-Mile Air Runs A Tok-Based Medevac Service That Supplements Guardian and LifeMed 


Inside 40-Mile Air In Tok, Showing The Company's Wilderness Background. (Photo, Country Journal) 

There's A Plane At Tok's Airport, & An On-Call Local Pilot Is Available At All Times 

Permanent Tok-Based Flight Nurses Will Accompany Victim To Fairbanks By Air From Tok  

July 5th, 2024 

It's not just the Copper Valley that's faced with the problem of how to get a person who's in dire need of a doctor to a faraway hospital. 

Tok doesn't have a hospital, either (though it does have a daytime Native-operated Medical Clinic, similar to CRNA's in Tazlina). 

The Country Journal went to Tok and dropped in at 40-Mile Air, which has taken it upon itself to operate a local Medevac service from the airport in downtown Tok. 

40-Mile Air is a longtime air taxi operator. These days, in addition to everything else, it offers 24/7 medical evacuations straight out of Tok. 

40-Mile is a flight service that typically specializes in flight seeing, wildlife viewing, hunting, hiking and float trip drop-offs in Wrangell-St. Elias, the Alaska Range, Tetlin Wildlife Refuge, 40-Mile Country and the Yukon-Charley Preserve.

Tok, on the Alaska Highway where it joins the northern end of the Tok Cutoff, is 138 road miles northeast of Glennallen. 

When a patient in Tok needs to be Medevaced to Fairbanks, which is 202 road miles away, a Navajo PA-31 is used to take them there so they can be attended to by doctors at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, 40-Mile Air told the Journal. 

It also goes to Anchorage if necessary. When it arrives in town, an ambulance service is called to come meet the plane.

The Navajo is parked out back on the airport tarmac behind the 40-Mile Air building. 

It's an expensive flight. It costs $12,000 just for the lift off fee. Then it costs an additional $60 per patient mile. According to 40-Mile Air, it's 183 flight miles to Fairbanks, so that would be about $10,000 after lift off, bringing the total amount charged for a Medevac to around $22,000 for the trip to Fairbanks International Airport from Tok. 

40-Mile Air told the Country Journal that about half 
of the evacuations were on behalf of members of Tanana Chiefs Conference, which is the Native organization in the Tok area. 

Billings for Medevacs are made through a third-party billing company. 40-Mile Air said that a variety of insurances are also used, including Medicare and Medicaid. 

If someone in Tok has a Guardian or LifeMed membership, they could be taken by one of them to Fairbanks using their lower-cost membership plans – though not as quickly. 

On the Navajo plane, there's at least one dedicated local nurse, who is on call at home in Tok, waiting for a flight – or EMS personnel.   Sometimes there might be two Tok-based nurses on the plane as it heads to Fairbanks and its hospital, the air company told the Journal.

The service also extends to various Alcan Native communities in the surrounding area near Tok including Northway, Tanacross and Tetlin. There's no airport at Dot Lake. 

40-Mile Air can also go to the Canada border. Stricken Americans can be brought to the edge of the U.S. Then the Tok Medevac system will go to the border to pick them up for transport to Fairbanks. 

This service is not supported by the state of Alaska. It is solely run by 40-Mile Air, a private company. 

There have been over 100 Medevacs from Tok's home-grown evacuation service over the last year, the flightseeing company told the Country Journal this week. Nobody in Tok is driven by ambulance to Fairbanks. 

40 Mile Air, Tok Alaska (Photo, Country Journal) 


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