BELGRADE, Mont. - Yet another business is adapting to prepare for the spread of coronavirus across the country. Bridger Aerospace - a Belgrade-based wildfire suppression and response company - is offering up their fleet of more than a dozen planes to help out healthcare workers in moving supplies and patients.
Right now, Montana has one of the lowest case loads in the country, with 65 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Treasure State as of Wednesday evening. But as we've seen, those numbers can change without much of a warning.
One company is using the resources it has - people, experience, and 20 planes - to prepare for Montana's worst case scenario.
Says Bridger Aerospace and Ascent Vision Technologies CEO, Tim Sheehy: "When it was apparent the virus was going to start outstripping the local resources, we reached out to various organizations, both charity as well as the local hospital, as well as national organizations to offer our expertise in any way we could."
The planes are currently grounded, but they might be the next lifesaving measure for Montanans in this fight against the coronavirus. They're ready for whatever is needed, whether that's bringing in equipment or taking patients to larger hospitals.
"You've gotta be creative, and you've got to be aggressive," Sheehy explains.
Bridger Aerospace is also putting a pause on their new hangar to send construction workers to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, which is in the middle of a major renovation.
All of this is happening while the company is gearing up for another fire season. Bridger Aerospace is a major force nationwide in aerial firefighting efforts.
"It's a balance ensuring that we're completing our mission for our life-and-death customers," Sheehy says, "but also making sure that our workforce and our community are being taken care of as much as we possibly can.”
There's a severe shortage of supplies and skills in harder-hit areas of the country, but efforts from businesses like Bridger Aerospace will hopefully keep Montana from looking the same way if case loads keep rising.
"We have to adapt, we have to be aggressive in our response," says Sheehy. "But at the same time, we gotta hold true to what matters... You gotta do the best you can with the information you have."