Don Miller

“Do you have a Gazetteer?” Don Miller asked as he began his story, referring, of course, to the DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer. “Go get it, and I’ll tell you what happened to me.”

On the afternoon of June 1, 2023, Don felt something was off. He had been at his camp (page 62 in the Gazetteer) mostly by himself since the end of April. He sat down, not feeling up to the tasks he had been planning to tackle. His camp is deep “in the woods,” as he emphatically says, but it is also near a logging road that sees some traffic.

The People & Places Behind Don’s Story

Northern Light AR Gould Hospital (Presque Isle) to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center (Bangor)

Kevin Beaulieu

Brandon Mayo

Jeff Hammersmith

Jon Sanford

L3 plane transport

A couple of his friends decided to drop in that afternoon to say hello. They found Don sitting quietly and noticed immediately that something was wrong. It was not clear what exactly was ailing him — he seemed disoriented and mentioned a headache— but they knew better than to wait around and find out. They hastily locked up the camp as Don climbed into the passenger seat of his truck.

As his friend drove, Don used his Garmin inReach GPS device, which he had connected to an app on his phone, to send an emergency text message to another friend, Robert, who is a local firefighter.

When Don got to Ashland, about 40 miles down the logging road from his camp, Robert was waiting there in an ambulance at the edge of the woods. The ambulance took him to Northern Light AR Gould Hospital in Presque Isle for evaluation, where the medical team determined with a CT scan that he had a brain bleed. “All I heard the guy say was, ‘we don’t do brain surgery,’” Don recounted. LifeFlight of Maine was called, and Don was flown by helicopter to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. A neurosurgeon was waiting when the helicopter arrived, and Don was taken into surgery. He woke up the following morning to see his wife, daughter, and pastor there in his hospital room.

Don is still recovering, but he is feeling better both physically and mentally. He is able to drive again, which means heading back up north. “I’m back to where I can ace the crosswords in the Kennebec Journal,” he said. Don is a natural storyteller, humble, and grateful for both the friends and strangers who took care of him. “I specifically want to thank LifeFlight of Maine for their efforts in getting me to Bangor for surgery,” Don said. “I could have passed anywhere along the journey, but the LifeFlight ride made the difference.”

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