CALSTAR gets new employee housing |

CALSTAR gets new employee housing

Since the opening at Lake Tahoe Airport in October 2001, it’s been nothing but busy for CALSTAR, South Shore’s emergency air medical transport service.

Wednesday evening marked an open house for CALSTAR, as employee digs moved from a 32-foot trailer located in an airport hangar to a 24-by-60 foot modular home that will house the three-member on-duty crew. The addition will bring more comfort to the one pilot and two nurses who are ready to respond to an emergency on a 24-hour basis.

CALSTAR has four full-time pilots and seven full-time nurses.

The modular home has a living room, kitchen, three bedrooms, and offices for pilots and nurses, said Bob Griffith, chief flight nurse.

“It’s much more friendly,” Griffith said.

To complement the open house, Chase’s Bar and Grill at the airport served appetizers such as Cajun meatballs, Southern Comfort chicken and blackened catfish. The American Eurocopter was parked for peeping eyes and safety gear was on display.

As of Thursday, crews had conducted 329 transports since the initiation of CALSTAR’s presence at the lake. Over the summer, crews spotted the beginnings of the Gondola and Showers fires. CALSTAR also helps with numerous search and rescues.

A rescue can cost as much as $10,000 depending on the situation and manpower involved. For about $50 per family per year, South Shore residents can become members of CALSTAR. The primary benefit of membership is if a member needs to be rescued by CALSTAR or any of their reciprocal partners throughout the Western United States, the bill will be negated, Griffith said.

“CALSTAR doesn’t really make any money from the membership,” he said. “We’re trying to buy the community’s support.”

CALSTAR has helicopter bases in South Lake Tahoe, Concord, Gilroy, Auburn, Ukiah, Salinas, Santa Maria and an airplane service located in Jackson, which covers a good portion of the West. It is a nonprofit organization that receives money from corporate sponsors such as the Ronald McDonald House and Chevron. Founded in 1983, CALSTAR is the largest air ambulance provider in Northern California and has flown nearly 19,000 patients.

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