Lifeflight Needs Additional Aircraft to Meet the Needs of Mainers


[ WABI TV5 talked to LifeFlight about why the organization needs additional aircraft to care for hundreds more critically ill and injured patients in Maine. Watch the broadcast here. ]

Founded in 1998, LifeFlight of Maine is a non-profit organization that cares for critically ill or injured people with intensive care medical teams. Our vision is a state in which every person, in every community, has access to critical care transport where they need it, when they need it. LifeFlight uses helicopters and ground ambulances with the latest technology to bring the tertiary care hospital directly to a patient whether on a remote island, on the side of a road or in a community hospital. In 2008 LifeFlight was named the top air medical program in North America.

As requests from physicians continue to increase, LifeFlight has reached the capacity of its two helicopters.  In 2012 LifeFlight transported more than 1500 patients from every corner of the state to specialty hospitals in Maine, Boston, and beyond.  Our patients range from a day old to over 100 years old, but they all need care from specialist doctors for cardiac emergencies, surgery, trauma and/or brain injuries. LifeFlight is becoming increasingly important to our community hospitals to support critically ill and injured patients with additional staff and advanced technology. As the cost of healthcare continues to spiral up and community hospitals find it difficult to provide specialized services, the role of LifeFlight will continue to grow. To serve everyone who would benefit from our service, we must expand our fleet.

After extensive evaluation, it was determined that the best strategy is to add a fixed wing aircraft and a third helicopter.

Benefits of a fixed wing aircraft (airplane):

  • Faster over longer distances: The Beechcraft airplane LifeFlight is expecting to purchase is fastest over distances of 200 miles or more
  • Improve all-weather capability: Airplanes can operate in some weather conditions that helicopters cannot
  • Expand southern Maine coverage: Reducing the number of long flights currently experienced by our helicopters means those aircraft will be available to respond to more calls
  • Save more lives: Additional aircraft enables us to care for hundreds more patients every year
  • Regional transport capacity: Airplanes are better suited for very long transports when patients need specialized care not available in New England, including destinations like Montreal, Pittsburgh, and Richmond, VA

Benefits of a third helicopter:

  • Faster over shorter distances: LifeFlight’s Agusta helicopters are fast, flying at an average speed of 165 mph, and carry two patients or extra fuel
  • Land in small, remote areas: The helicopters are small and light which means they can land on roads, in fields, on islands and mountaintops or along Maine’s extensive recreational trail network
  • Quicker response time: A third helicopter allows us to get to patients more quickly and reduces the number of missed flights when our other aircraft are busy serving patients elsewhere
  • Keeps us flying: A third helicopter eliminates the need for LifeFlight to use a “back up” aircraft when our own helicopters are out of service for maintenance and upgrades

All of Maine’s residents and visitors depend on LifeFlight, which serves patients regardless of insurance or financial resources. As a non-profit we depend on you and other supporters to make sure we are there when needed. For more information on how you can help, contact the Foundation at 207-230-7092 or send us an email.