Airlift Northwest prepares to support emergency crews during I-90 closure

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. — Another major road closure is impacting drivers in western Washington as the westbound lanes of Interstate 90 at Mercer Island shut down on Friday so crews could repair expansion joints.

The shutdown sent a ripple effect across Lake Washington, with drivers waiting for hours on both I-90 and 520.

But what happens if there’s an emergency during the closure? KIRO 7′s Jake Chapman took this question to local first responders.

Jeff Richey, executive director of Airlift Northwest, says that whenever there are road closures that could impact ambulances or other crews, it has to be ready to step in 24/7, especially since they’re carrying vital equipment and supplies, like blood and plasma, to emergency scenes.

“The impact for us is just being available,” said Richey. “It’s all about how we can be able to get our nurses there to assist the medics and EMTs at that scene to move that patient to a higher degree of healthcare.”

Airlift Northwest says that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has seen an increase in calls, especially during the summer months.

And while this latest closure is temporary, Richey still believes every second to respond counts.

“Traffic, as we all know, can be impacted during this time period, and when that happens, time is of the essence,” said Richey.

The westbound side of the I-90 bridge is expected to be closed until 5 a.m. Monday.