Leadership Spotlight: Rachel Malcolm

This story appeared in our Spring 2024 issue of Dispatches.

Rachel Malcolm is a member of the Board of Trustees of The LifeFlight Foundation. She lives in Trenton, Maine.

When she began volunteering with local first responder services, Rachel Malcolm was willing to help however she could, but with two caveats: she wouldn’t wear a uniform and she definitely wouldn’t run into burning buildings.

Rachel moved to Maine in 2003 with her husband, two young children, and a degree in molecular biology. After a few years up in the County (Fort Fairfield), she and her family moved to Trenton, where she took a job working with lab mice at The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) in Bar Harbor. Today, she is the Manager of Animal Welfare and Regulatory Compliance at JAX, overseeing the animals, specifically mice, that are used in research. It is Rachel’s job to see that these critters in JAX labs across the country are treated ethically to ensure the integrity of scientific research. In her spare time, Rachel is also a firefighter with the Trenton Volunteer Fire Department, an instructor at the fire academy, and a second lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol, a civilian auxiliary of the US Air Force focused on community service and emergency preparedness.

Rachel Malcolm at the fire academy.

Rachel’s interest in first responder services was piqued years ago, when she went through several emergency training programs at JAX, led by local police, firefighters, and FEMA. First, she volunteered as a clerk with the local fire department, initially passing on an invitation to join the Civil Air Patrol. “Do you have to wear a uniform,” she recalls asking. “They said, ‘Well, yes.’ So, I said I’ll join the fire department.” She recorded meeting minutes and helped out around the fire station. In 2017, she attended the fire academy, and this year she is the deputy lead instructor training other volunteers. She also became certified to enter burning buildings. “This is my midlife crisis,” Rachel joked. “Some people buy sports cars. I went to the fire academy.”

“Ironically,” Rachel added, still chuckling, “my younger daughter joined the Civil Air Patrol. So, for the last three years I’ve also been in the Civil Air Patrol wearing my uniform.” Rachel volunteers as an emergency services officer, a communications officer, and a finance officer. “Basically, I show up at various places throughout the week, every week, and I just do what I can to help.” Her husband, Bill, changed careers several years ago to become a firefighter. He currently serves with the Trenton fire department and at Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport. Her elder daughter, Julia, is a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy and a volunteer firefighter when she is not at sea. Rachel’s younger daughter, Kelly, is a high school student and a member of the Civil Air Patrol. Community service is a family business for the Malcolms.

Left to right: Bill, Kelly, Rachel, and Julia Malcolm.

When she was invited to join the board of The LifeFlight Foundation, Rachel says she didn’t think twice. “I set up LifeFlight landing zones at the fire department,” she said. “I love emergency services, and I love helping people. I live right down the street from the airport, and now my husband works there. It’s this cross section where all of the things I like came to fruition, and if I can help in any way, spreading the message about how we all come together as a fire family when there’s a disaster, then I want to do it.”

LifeFlight of Maine is one link in the chain of survival, meaning that the LifeFlight crew plays an important role in providing emergency medical services, but not the only role. LifeFlight works closely with law enforcement agencies, EMS services, and fire departments across Maine to secure landing zones and transport patients. These relationships are crucial to the success of the EMS system and invaluable to LifeFlight patients. “Having someone like Rachel on our Foundation board is important to our mission and represents the thousands of relationships we have with people in EMS and fire departments across Maine and beyond,” Joe Kellner, CEO of LifeFlight of Maine, said. “Ultimately, we’re all working toward the same goal and committed to the same vision for Maine as a place where everyone has access to the care they need, when they need it.”

Fire fighters train at the fire academy. Photo courtesy of Rachel Malcolm.

As a Foundation board member, Rachel writes letters thanking donors for their support. She represents LifeFlight at local community meetings, asking for their support of the organization, and she serves on the board’s governance committee. “Rachel has served on our board for two years now,” said Kate O’Halloran, executive director of The LifeFlight Foundation. “The Foundation’s mission is to raise critical funds and awareness for LifeFlight of Maine, and we rely on support from people from all walks of life and every corner of the state. Rachel has such a deep commitment to her community and to our state. We are fortunate to have her supporting LifeFlight as a board member, and grateful to have such an incredible partner in Hancock County.”