For Immediate Release – June 16, 2023
Augusta, Maine – LifeFlight of Maine has announced that it will acquire three specialized ground ambulances and launch a critical care ground transport program, ensuring that seriously ill and injured patients in Maine continue to get the care they need.
These specialized ground ambulances will be stationed at each of LifeFlight’s existing bases — in Bangor, Lewiston, and Sanford. Like LifeFlight’s aircraft, these ground vehicles will also carry specialized medical equipment, creating a mobile ICU with a portable laboratory, multimode ventilators, an ultrasound, invasive cardiac, neuro, and pulmonary monitors, multiple infusion pumps, specialized neonatal and pediatric transport equipment, and hospital pharmacy and blood. LifeFlight crews will continue the care already started in hospitals for patients who need ICU-level care during transport.
With the demand for LifeFlight increasing each year, and with EMS services struggling to meet local needs, the decision for LifeFlight to invest in its own specialized, critical care ground transport vehicles is vital to ensuring reliability. The goal is to secure the resources needed to take delivery of these ground ambulances in June 2024. The cost of each vehicle is $640,000. The total investment of $1,920,000 must be funded privately through the generous support of the people of Maine through the work of The LifeFlight Foundation. More than $500,000 has already been raised for this new program.
Annually, LifeFlight of Maine transports more than 2,500 patients, an average of one transport every three and a half hours. LifeFlight teams reach patients by ground transport when the helicopters and airplane are unavailable due to weather, maintenance, or because they are in the air transporting other patients. LifeFlight also travels by ground when its critical care expertise is required but air transport is not the preferred mode — such as for shorter distance transports or due to patient size. Currently, 26 percent of LifeFlight transports occur in a ground vehicle, and the number of ground transports is expected to increase in the years ahead, along with the overall demand for LifeFlight services.
For the past two decades, LifeFlight has partnered with municipal and private ambulance services to provide ground transport for interhospital emergency critical care transfers. LifeFlight medical teams and their equipment provide ICU transfers for patients in other services’ ambulances. Given the staffing and reimbursement challenges currently facing EMS services in Maine, LifeFlight’s valued partners are increasingly unable to support these transports. LifeFlight’s new critical care ground ambulances will be used when flight is not possible and will not supplant transports by local EMS services who provide interhospital transfers every day to patients across Maine.
Comments from LifeFlight Leadership
Tom Judge, Executive Director, LifeFlight of Maine
LifeFlight cares for patients ranging from premature newborns to those on cardio-pulmonary bypass. Each of our air and ground specialized ambulances is a mobile ICU. These new critical care ground ambulances will be essential when physicians need to transfer a patient to a major medical center in Maine or beyond, and when for weather or logistical issues we cannot safely transfer the patient in our helicopters or airplane. Generous support from so many people across Maine will help us ensure we are there when needed, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Bill Cyr, Chief Operating Office, LifeFlight of Maine:
This is a necessary investment by LifeFlight in EMS infrastructure here in Maine. Our EMS partners have worked tirelessly with us for years, but their services are increasingly needed in their own communities, and a LifeFlight transport can take one of their vehicles away for an entire day. We are bringing three highly specialized ambulances to Maine, which gives all of our communities greater access to the highest quality care.
Kate O’Halloran, Executive Director, The LifeFlight Foundation:
Since The LifeFlight Foundation was created in 2003, the people of Maine have rallied together to contribute more than $40 million to support LifeFlight of Maine. Because of that support, our fleet is among the best in the country. Our team is capable, courageous, and compassionate. Our onboard medical equipment rivals or surpasses that which is available in many hospitals, and our aviation infrastructure is superb. This investment in ground transport is the next critical inflection point for LifeFlight; we need the people of Maine to get behind this to make it happen.
For more information about LifeFlight of Maine’s new Critical Care Ground Transport Program, please visit: https://lifeflight.me/ground.
About LifeFlight of Maine
LifeFlight of Maine is a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that every person, in every community in Maine, has access to critical care and medical transport when needed. LifeFlight does this by working with its EMS partners to transform the critical care transport medicine system into an integrated, high-quality, patient-centered system worthy of the public’s trust. Each vehicle in LifeFlight’s fleet — currently five helicopters and an airplane — are fully equipped as mobile intensive care units, bringing advanced skills, medical technology, pharmacy, blood, and more directly to a patient’s side.
In 2023, LifeFlight is celebrating 25 years of safely caring for and transporting the people of Maine. Since 1998, LifeFlight has transported more than 36,000 patients, one life at a time, from every community in Maine.
About The LifeFlight Foundation
The LifeFlight Foundation provides fundraising and public relations support to LifeFlight of Maine. The LifeFlight Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees whose members include medical, business, legal, and education professionals from across the state. Supported by the generosity of the many friends of LifeFlight, the Foundation raises funds for aircraft, medical equipment, hospital helipads, statewide aviation improvements, and the many education and outreach programs offered by LifeFlight of Maine.