Chris Lirakis

On May 9, 2006, 16-year-old Chris Lirakis was watching his younger sister at their family’s home in Harborside (Brooksville) while his parents visited his older sister at college in New York. Chris had a headache that seemed to get worse as the day went on, but he didn’t think much of it. Late in the afternoon, his mother called to check in, and Chris wasn’t making much sense. He seemed confused. Something was wrong. She asked a neighbor to check in on him.

The People & Places Behind Chris’ Story

Scene call (Harborside) to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center (Bangor)

Joe Obremski

Charlie Beller

Kevin Burkholder

Bill Bradley

Rotor Wing

“I am very lucky that I had so many family members and neighbors who were firefighters and there to help,” Chris said. One of these friends, a firefighter in Brooklin, immediately recognized that Chris was unwell and suspected that he might need more advanced care than the nearby community hospital could provide. Harborside is a small community on Penobscot Bay more than an hour drive from Bangor. So, he called LifeFlight of Maine.

“It was a stormy night. It was not a charted landing zone,” Chris remembers. “It was very brave of them to do it. They were able to land in that field and take me to Eastern Maine.” Joe, the LifeFlight pilot determined that it was safe to fly despite the weather, and he landed the aircraft within sight of the Lirakis house. At Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) in Bangor, Chris was diagnosed with a brain bleed and was put into a medically induced coma for two weeks. “They did what they did, and they saved me,” Chris said.

Fast forward 17 years, and Chris is married with a ten-year-old daughter, Jade. He and his wife, Krystal, live in Vermont, where she is a board-certified behavioral counselor. Chris earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Maine at Farmington and a graduate degree from Assumption University. He is now a certified rehabilitation counselor. His focus is on helping people find and maintain employment. “I was in speech and occupational therapy for two years after I was discharged from the hospital,” he recalled. “That definitely had a big impact on where I ended up.”

“We’re doing really well now,” Chris said happily and graciously in a recent conversation. “It’s easy to forget what everybody on that helicopter flight had to do. We can’t thank LifeFlight enough.”

First published as the December feature story in the LifeFlight of Maine 2024 Calendar.