Sixty open water swimmers braved the chilly Atlantic last Saturday to swim the 3.1-mile channel from Lincolnville to Islesboro in the 2nd annual Islesboro Crossing for LifeFlight. Each swimmer had spent the weeks and months leading up to the event gathering pledges from friends and family to raise money for LifeFlight to purchase advanced medical equipment and aircraft. These dedicated athletes raised more than $110,000, quadrupling the amount raised in the event’s first year.
Some of the money raised will purchase mobile ultrasound technology for both of LifeFlight’s aircraft. Advances in this technology over the last decade have allowed ultrasound units to become smaller and more mobile, which is good news for critically injured patients. With this new equipment, the LifeFlight crew can more accurately assess and diagnose patients with internal bleeding or damaged lungs. Internal injuries from trauma are often hidden and nearly always time sensitive. The longer a collapsed lung or cardiac tamponade goes untreated, the more severely it will affect the body’s other systems. Ultrasound helps providers find the injuries and treat them before it’s too late to reverse the effects.
Two ultrasound units cost approximately $65,000, with the remaining money raised at the event slated to go toward the campaign for a third helicopter.
Every year, LifeFlight helps more and more critically ill and injured residents and visitors to Maine regardless of their ability to pay. Last year, the annual number topped 1,600, with a total of more than 17,000 since operations began in 1998. The nonprofit, statewide emergency medical helicopter service is a lifeline for Maine’s remote and rural communities, but it relies on private donations from individuals, businesses and foundations to stay in the air.
The 2nd annual Islesboro Crossing for LifeFlight open water swim fundraising event was held on August 22-23. On Friday evening athletes and volunteers gathered at the breathtaking summit facility at Point Lookout Resort to have dinner, register and go over important safety information. Then bright and early on Saturday morning, swimmers, accompanied by personal kayak escorts and several safety boats, started the 5k swim from Point Lookout Resort’s beach and finished just north of the Grindle Point Lighthouse on Islesboro. A large group of Islesboro community members welcomed swimmers as they climbed out of the water, and provided nourishing food and drink. The LifeFlight helicopter also made an appearance, circling overhead as the flotilla made its way across the channel, and landing on the island so everyone could see the aircraft up close and personal.
In addition to the individual fundraising, the event was also generously sponsored by Point Lookout/Athenahealth, Speedo, Camden National Bank, Maine Magazine, Eaton Peabody, Jo Ellen Designs and Schooner Bay Taxi, with in-kind support from All Aboard Trolley, Quicksilver, Cleanwoods Portable Toilets and Seacoast Coffee.
LifeFlight of Maine is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit 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 21 physicians, LifeFlight cared for more than 1,600 critically ill and injured patients last year. Since its inception in 1998, LifeFlight has transported more than 17,000 patients from every hospital and nearly all of Maine’s communities and islands.