“It is desperately needed,” said Bean.
LifeFlight’s two existing helicopters, based in Lewiston and Bangor, have provided critical care and transport to Maine’s most vulnerable patients in ever increasing numbers since it first began operations in 1998. Today, LifeFlight cares for more than 1,600 patients every year in every corner of Maine by air and, in some cases, by ground. However, LifeFlight is increasingly receiving more requests than it can answer.
“Changes in the healthcare system and demographics in Maine mean the need for LifeFlight will continue to grow,” explained Thomas Judge, Executive Director of LifeFlight of Maine. “This leadership gift from Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster family will help to save more and more lives each year.”
In a gathering of workers and supporters in her home village recently, Bean, who has lived in Maine all her life, said, “Maine’s natural resource industries, like fishing, farming and forestry, have inherent dangers. And many of our coastal fishing families live on remote islands like Frenchboro, Vinalhaven, Monhegan and Matinicus. When time is of the essence and a person is in trouble, LifeFlight is there with onboard emergency medical equipment and technology that saves many precious lives. Often before a hospital can be reached.”
The vulnerability of rural Maine can readily be seen in the state’s traditional industries of farming, forestry and fishing. Men and women employed in these industries, many of who work closely with Bean, spend a great deal of time in Maine’s most rugged and remote environments. LifeFlight and its helicopters can overcome the challenge of rural geography and make a difference for critically ill and injured patients. This donation will help provide a third LifeFlight helicopter to ensure Maine people get the care they need, when they need it, whether on an island, a rural highway, a remote snowmobile trail or in a small community hospital.
“Our two helicopters support every hospital, EMS agency, and community in Maine,” said Judge. “This new helicopter, with ‘Next Gen’ avionics, will upgrade all of our current capabilities and safety technology. We will add some special detailing in the color scheme to recognize our deep appreciation for the funding support of Maine’s iconic lobster industry. We hope her community, employees and those whose lobsters she buys will feel proud of this tremendous holiday gift.”
The purchase and implementation of a third helicopter is part of LifeFlight’s plan to realize its vision of Maine as a place in which every person, in every community, has access to critical care and medical transport when they need it. The plan also includes the purchase and implementation of a fixed wing aircraft, which can fly in a wider range of weather conditions and cover extremely long distances more efficiently than a helicopter.
“LifeFlight fills an important need in the state’s emergency medical system,” explained LifeFlight Executive Director Thomas Judge. “Maine is a very rural state, with a widespread population and regionalized specialty care. LifeFlight is a critical bridge to that care, and this gift from Linda’s family and company is a huge step toward making sure everyone can access that bridge.”
In addition to the $6 million price tag for the helicopter, $500,000 worth of specialized equipment is needed to provide the high level of care on which Mainers rely. Though many think of LifeFlight as simply a fast ambulance ride to the hospital, the care provided by the crew on board the aircraft is just as important to the patient’s survival. The specialized equipment carried on every transport is the same equipment that is typically found in an intensive care unit, transforming the helicopter into a flying hospital.
LifeFlight of Maine is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable air medical and critical care transport organization. LifeFlight helicopters, flying at 165 miles per hour, bring lifesaving critical care staff and equipment directly to the patient. It also provides advanced emergency medical training to Maine’s hospitals, emergency medical services (EMS) and public safety agencies. Overseen by 27 emergency, specialist and trauma physicians from hospitals across the state, LifeFlight cared for more than 1,600 critically ill and injured patients last year. Since its inception in 1998, LifeFlight has transported nearly 18,000 patients from every hospital and nearly all of Maine’s communities and islands. If you would like to contribute to the aircraft fund, visit our donation page.