A.L.E.R.T. air ambulance has saved more than 1,400 lives in its 40-year history. It has flown more than 15,000 missions into some of the most rugged terrain on the continent, bringing injured people safely out of what otherwise could be impossible circumstances.
It's no wonder the community expresses its gratitude by showing up in force at the annual A.L.E.R.T. Banquet. Celebrating its 38th year in 2016, the benefit for the emergency air transport service is a well-established tradition sponsored by the all-volunteer A.L.E.R.T. Advisory Board of Kalispell Regional Healthcare.
This year's banquet will be held on April 23, 2016, in the Trade Center Building of the Flathead County Fairgrounds in Kalispell. Reception starts at 5:30p.m. followed by a sit down dinner at 7:00.
Tickets are $300 per couple and include a hosted cocktail hour, buffet dinner, and prize drawings.
The evening will feature both live and silent auctions with proceeds benefiting the A.L.E.R.T. program, celebrating 40 year of service.
Tickets may be purchased by mailing a $300 check to:
Attn: Lori Alsbury
310 Sunnyview Lane
Kalispell, MT 59901
As the major annual fundraiser for the program, last year’s A.L.E.R.T. Banquet netted approximately $113,000 for the air ambulance service.
For more information on the A.L.E.R.T. banquet, call (406) 752-1710 or contact email@example.com to purchase tickets.
Typically attracting nearly 700 people, the gala event has something for everyone.
A silent auction features donated art, handmade goods, dinner certificates, wines, guided raft trips and many more items demonstrating the community's generosity toward A.L.E.R.T. A live auction showcases the creativity of further donations. Original art, unique vacation getaway packages, a dinner train ride, antique guns and a year's car lease have been highlights in recent years. Cash prize drawings add a bit of sizzle throughout the evening.
Hors d'oeuvres and drinks during the hosted cocktail hour are followed by a scrumptious dinner, with Kalispell Regional Medical Center's own Nutrition Services catering all the food. An array of the area's finest musical talent provides a backdrop of live music.
The evening's program spotlights A.L.E.R.T.'s services and accomplishments of the past year. Those attending hear the story of a life that was saved or a crisis that was alleviated by the efforts of the crew. The patient and flight crew are guests of honor, on hand to give personal testimony to the impact of the air ambulance service.
It's all wrapped up when the Clyde Smith Award is presented to a member of a local Emergency Medical Service or Quick Response Unit. The recipient is chosen from across Northwest Montana for his or her dedication, volunteerism and service toward life-saving efforts in the community. The award is named in honor of Clyde Smith, who put up his business, Smith Logging, as collateral against the original loan that funded the hospital's purchase of its own helicopter.
Banquet tickets are $300 per couple and are available by calling Lori Alsbury at 752-1710. Tickets may also be purchased from any A.L.E.R.T. Advisory Board member, or in the Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation office. The Foundation's phone number is 751-6930.
In 2009, the A.L.E.R.T. Banquet netted some $90,000 to cover operating costs, specialized equipment, continuing education and training for the flight crew. Banquet fund-raising over the prior five years matched that mark each year.
Everyone connected with A.L.E.R.T. is grateful for the generosity, which goes a long way toward funding the service. But even when combined with revenue generated from the annual Betty Woods Memorial Golf Tournament and other charitable contributions, the air ambulance runs at a budget deficit every year. Because it is a critical service to our region, Kalispell Regional Medical Center continues to offer it as a community benefit.
Despite its importance, the funding raised at the annual banquet is not the most critical aspect. Far more valuable to the ongoing air ambulance is the overwhelming show of community support.
We are a community of adventurers. We cover all ages and occupations. We break our legs on mountainsides, we have allergic reactions to bee stings, we are injured in traffic accidents, we have heart attacks and we carry out potentially dangerous work in our forests.
"This is an area where people tend to get very remote fairly quickly, and don't realize how long it takes to get back," banquet organizer Lori Alsbury said. When you're injured in the backcountry and need critical medical care, every minute counts. A.L.E.R.T. helps cut those minutes. "A.L.E.R.T. is one of those things that you don't realize how much you need it until you need it," she added.
A.L.E.R.T. is a part of Flathead County's Emergency Medical Services network. To access the service, dial 911.
The emergency air transport service always has been supported by the generosity of the local community. It started in 1975 as a cooperative effort among Kalispell General Hospital, the logging industry, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service. Today it is a department of the nonprofit Kalispell Regional Medical Center, with its hangar located just outside the Emergency Room door.
All money raised for the emergency air transport service throughout the entire year goes into an A.L.E.R.T. fund set up through the Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation.
Tax-deductible contributions may be mailed to:
Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation
310 Sunnyview Lane
Kalispell, MT 59901