Maine is about to become a safer place to work, live and play. After three years of fundraising, led by a $3 million gift from Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster family, the people of Maine will soon have a third helicopter. The new aircraft will join LifeFlight’s current fleet of two helicopters, an airplane and dedicated ground ambulances, and will be based in Lewiston at Central Maine Medical Center. The additional resource means Maine’s only emergency medical helicopter service can answer more calls for help every year, and can respond to those calls more quickly than ever.
To accommodate the growing fleet and to ensure the best coverage of Maine, LifeFlight is also opening a third base of operations at Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport in York County. Sometime over the next several weeks, clinical staff will move into hangar space that is currently being renovated. LifeFlight will start providing critical care transport in an interim medical helicopter while the new aircraft undergoes the final stages of construction, changing it from simply a fast helicopter into a flying intensive care unit.
LifeFlight’s new helicopter, the latest version of Augusta’s 109 model, will arrive in Maine in the spring. Though it will be painted with the familiar white, green and gold color scheme, it also takes advantage of recent advances in composite materials and electronics. The cabin is a little larger and the airframe can carry an additional 400 pounds. The Pratt and Whitney engines are more efficient, providing higher performance with less fuel. Perhaps most significant are the “NextGen” avionics in the new aircraft, which include advanced autopilot and streamlined compatibility with satellite-based air traffic control that the FAA is implementing over the next several years.
The addition of the third helicopter means patients in southern Maine, the western mountains, the rural interior and remote island communities will get faster care and transport to specialty medical centers in Maine, Boston and beyond.
LifeFlight of Maine is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit air medical and critical care transport organization. LifeFlight brings lifesaving critical care staff and equipment directly to the patient by helicopter, airplane and ground ambulance. It also provides advanced emergency medical training to Maine’s hospitals, emergency medical services (EMS) and public safety agencies. Overseen by 25 physicians, LifeFlight cared for nearly 1,800 critically ill and injured patients last year. Since its inception in 1998, LifeFlight has transported more than 21,000 patients from every hospital and nearly all of Maine’s communities and islands.