A Gift From Those Whose Lives Were Saved

This article appeared in the Spring 2024 issue of “Dispatches.”

The helicopters are conspicuous and impressive to see fly, but the heart and soul of LifeFlight of Maine are the crew in their green flight suits with tremendous experience and extraordinary skill. A helicopter is a vehicle, but crew members save lives.

“I will always appreciate what LifeFlight of Maine did for my husband and me,” Janice Gray shared in an email recently. “That is why I have been a long-time donor and will continue to do so.”

Janice is one of nearly 250 former LifeFlight patients or their family members who made a donation in recent months. Together, the LifeFlight of Maine Grateful Patient community has contributed more than $191,000 in honor of the care they received from the flight crew — paramedics, nurses, and pilots. The funds raised will be used to purchase new uniforms this year for each LifeFlight crew member, serving as a tangible reminder on every LifeFlight transport of the generosity and gratitude of each of these patients and their families.

Flight nurse Denise Saucier with a former patient.
Flight nurse Cameron Bird with a former patient.

These flight suits are more than uniform coveralls. They are symbolic of LifeFlight’s mission as a nonprofit. They are synonymous with the people who have built this organization and earned its reputation for excellence. They reflect years of experience flying aircraft, treating Maine’s most ill and injured patients in an intensive care unit or emergency room, or saving a life in the back of an ambulance. They represent countless nights, weekends, and holidays spent caring for someone else’s loved one. They have witnessed joy and tragedy, healed the sick, and comforted the dying. They are worn proudly by a carefully chosen and relatively small group of individuals who have dedicated their careers to caring for others and have made a commitment to show up when called upon.

In their time of need, LifeFlight’s patients and their families saw these green flight suits come to their aid. They understand what these uniforms symbolize. “The success that I experienced was because of the people, the professionals, who had trained for such an event. I’m the luckiest guy in the State of Maine,” one former LifeFlight patient, who made a donation to support the crew, said recently. “There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not grateful for the service that [LifeFlight] provides.”

Each donation is an expression of gratitude. What the LifeFlight crew does makes an immediate and tangible difference in the lives of 2,500 Maine families every year. Many of these families want to give back, not for their own sake, but so that the next family can have access to the same excellent emergency care they received from the LifeFlight crew.

LifeFlight crew member holding baby
Flight nurse Patrick Perrault holding a former patient.

Since 1998, LifeFlight has transported more than 38,000 patients from every community in Maine. Each patient has a different story, but every member of this special community has one thing in common: when they woke up that morning, they did not know that their lives would depend on help from three strangers in green flight suits. One anonymous donor, who is also a former patient, generously offered to match every donation made by fellow members of this community up to $25,000. The challenge was quickly and enthusiastically met.

The crew will have new uniforms — which will still be forest green, of course — and every day and night of the year they will be worn in the skies above Maine by some of the best pilots, nurses, and paramedics on their way to deliver ICU-level care to someone in need.

Click here for more information on LifeFlight of Maine’s Grateful Patient Program.