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December 28, 2022

LifeFlight of Maine copter fleet complete

LifeFlight of Maine The crew of Whiskey Mike, the third helicopter to join the airborne medical ambulance service in as many years.
It costs $6.3 million for each specialized medical helicopter; the upgrade to the Maine fleet was made possible by more than 7,500 combined donors comprising individuals, family and private foundations, and Maine businesses.  
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LifeFlight of Maine now has a full hangar of helicopters with the addition of its third bird in three years. 

LifeFlight is the state’s only emergency air ambulance service, bringing medical technology, a pharmacy, blood products and more to patients across the state. 

On Dec. 21, the trio of helicopters lined up for the first time outside LifeFlight’s Auburn hangar to celebrate the upgraded fleet after Whiskey Mike began transporting patients this month. Xray Mike went into service in March 2021, and Lima Foxtrot  joined the Maine fleet in November 2020. 

The upgrade to the fleet - at a cost of $6.3 million for each specialized medical helicopter - was made possible by more than 7,500 donors, who are a combination of individuals, family and private foundations, and Maine businesses.

“This truly is a gift to Maine, from the people of Maine,” said LifeFlight Foundation Executive Director Kate O’Halloran in a prepared release. “It is because of their generous support that LifeFlight is now able to better serve our family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors wherever and whenever they need us.”

Over the past 23 years, LifeFlight has cared for 35,000 patients of all ages, from premature infants to seniors who need specialty care. The calls for help come from all parts of Maine — from mountains, lakes and coastal islands to highways, trails, and main streets.

Most importantly, however, they fly from hospital to hospital.

Much more than their iconic helicopters, the LifeFlight fleet are flying intensive care units, staffed by experienced and highly-trained pilots, critical care nurses and paramedics. The helicopters are equipped with lifesaving medical technology that's often not available at rural hospitals. When Mainers see LifeFlight’s signature aircraft overhead, there is likely a crew onboard, working against the clock to give someone a second chance.

Standardization is invaluable to the pilots, mechanics and clinical crews who move from one aircraft to another, because the layout, avionics, medical mounts and lighting are consistent.

“We acquired our first two original helicopters in 2003 and they have been incredible workhorses,” said Tom Judge, founder and executive director of LifeFlight of Maine. “In 2023 we will celebrate 25 years of being able to care for and safely transport Maine’s most ill and injured patients. These new helicopters feature more power, speed, a larger interior workspace, and advanced aviation electronics. All this translates to more patients served, and served more quickly, for years to come. This is a big moment for all of Maine.”

In 2022, LifeFlight cared for more than 2,500 patients operating from bases in Sanford, Lewiston and Bangor, using four helicopters, a fixed-wing airplane, rapid response vehicles, and specialized ground ambulances. The medical teams care for Maine by partnering 24/7/365 with local EMS, fire/rescue, and hospital providers.

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