Letter from Executive Director Jim Nimon - November 2016
We spent some time near Baltimore last week to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family living there. The next day we went out to find the perfect Christmas Tree. I got to push Taylor, our fourteen month old granddaughter, along a bumpy path as we made our way through the tree farm. She was overcome by the combination of fresh air and uneven terrain and slumped over for her morning nap. As I write, I'm reminded not only how grateful I am for family but also how certain I am that, like Taylor, we can calm ourselves down even when the road is difficult. The growth council was about six months old when I got here in 2011. We've certainly witnessed some some challenging times in Sanford over the past five years and those times go back decades for some of you that I've met. We've made considerable progress on a lot of different fronts, as we've regularly chronicled and shared with you in our newsletter. Should we all take naps now and rest on our laurels? Of course not. But I'd like to keep encouraging all of us to have faith that, if we trust in each other and work hard together, we can achieve our goals for economic growth and community prosperity.
In this newsletter issue, we congratulate two successful Sanford businesses - Heidi's Heavenly Pot Pies and Above and Beyond Catering - that received acclaim earlier this month at YCCC's annual business awards night. Also, if you missed it, and given the success of many Sanford manufacturers, we believe you will enjoy the recent Portland Press Herald Maine Voices column
written by YCCC president Barbara Finkelstein, who writes, "Modern manufacturing has had a profound impact on both our country and our economy. I cannot think of a more appropriate year to truly celebrate this than 2016, as we are in the midst right now of another manufacturing renaissance, right here at home".
Speaking of manufacturers, the growth council invited CEOs from the six largest companies in South Sanford to attend a meeting, co-hosted with YCCC at their expanded Sanford facility, to allow them to directly share their workforce issues with president Finkelstein and staff from the Maine DECD and DOL and Maine Quality Centers. Follow-up action has already occurred between one company and the college - we believe there is much more to do to support the employment growth of these companies in Sanford and we'll report more in upcoming issues.
Please check out the article below on the newest enterprise - LifeFlight of Maine - to begin operations at the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport. This is one more example of how the airport is becoming a thriving area of growth in our community.
We have begun a conversation among Sanford educators and broadband experts to determine whether we can set and reach a community goal of becoming #1 in Digital Literacy. This goal is meant to parallel the installation of SanfordNet Fiber as we strive to optimally use the new technology. Stay tuned for more details. Regarding fiber optics and digital literacy, this month we begin a new column that tries to simplify the technical conversation by reviewing basic terminology. Future issues will provide more basics and share stories about how broadband projects are enhancing economic growth around the country.
Roy Hebert, our region's business advisor for the Maine Small Business Development Centers, is introduced this month as he sets up regular office hours in Sanford (see article below left).
Finally, we offer a significant challenge to you, our readers: please help us today by forwarding this newsletter to at least one friend or colleague and invite them to "opt in" to receive future issues
. Thank you in advance for your assistance. We aim to increase our readership as we set our resolutions for 2017.
LifeFlight of Maine Establishing New Hub at Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport
Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport is soon to be home to Maine's newest LifeFlight of Maine hub. The Growth Council recently had the opportunity to speak with Tom Judge, Executive Director of LifeFlight of Maine, to learn more about the organization and its plans in Sanford.
GC: For those who may not know, can you tell us a little bit about LifeFlight of Maine and its mission?
LifeFlight was formed in 1998 to provide critical care helicopter services to the entire state of Maine. LifeFlight is a unique healthcare provider literally touching every community and hospital in Maine. While an ambulance brings a patient to the hospital, LifeFlight quite literally brings the tertiary hospital directly to the patient. Since it began, LifeFlight has transported 21,000 patients from every hospital and community in Maine.
Over the years we have expanded into ground critical care and have added a King Air 200 fixed wing airplane to provide more all weather capability and long distance transport, including to Cleveland Clinic and Duke University in the last year along with the mid-Atlantic states.
LifeFlight of Maine is a non profit charity supported by the LifeFlight Foundation, an independent charity, with a Board comprised of medical, business, and community leaders from across the state.
GC: LifeFlight is a non-profit service, but helicopters are not cheap to purchase or operate – can you explain how the organization works?
As with hospital emergency departments and ambulances, LifeFlight bills patients insurance for services but provides care regardless if a patient has insurance or any means to cover the cost of care. The Foundation raises funds from hospitals, individuals, foundations and businesses across Maine. These funds help to support the aircraft fund which allows LifeFlight to acquire and operate state of the art, high performance helicopters. The new helicopter coming to Maine is a $6.2M investment in a fully “next gen” capable aircraft. The entire start-up project is an $8.5M investment, which includes establishing the new base in Sanford.
GC: Lifeflight has two other bases in Bangor and Lewiston. What made you decide to locate a base here in Sanford?
LifeFlight is not a traditional business which looks for opportunity to grow. We instead look for need: critically ill and injured patients who need our unique services. Mathematically looking at coverage, we identified Sanford as a needed expansion point and have finally developed the resources to meet the need.
For the past few years the number of requests from physicians in hospitals needing LifeFlight has continued to outpace our ability to deliver resources. We performed a multi-year planning effort to match capacity with need. We have maximized the efficiency of the two helicopters we have presently, added a new ground critical care specialty ambulance, added the fixed wing, and are now adding the third helicopter to meet the increasing need in southern Maine.
GC: When do you expect the Sanford location to be operational? What services are being offered from the Sanford location and how far do your helicopters usually travel?
We expect to start operations in the first part of January. Clinical and aviation staff are in training and we are working with the City and the Airport to develop the needed facility to support operations.
The Sanford-based helicopter could go anywhere in the state. It will have all of the same equipment and crew, with the same level of expertise and experience. A helicopter in Sanford means patients in southern Maine will have quicker access to care, and it means patients in other regions of the state will have an additional source of care if a closer helicopter is busy.
Our helicopters travel all across New England and provide mutual aid to colleagues in New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts. The two LifeFlight helicopters flew 290,000 miles last year.
GC: At your other two locations, staff are based at hospitals and leave when necessary to go on flights. Is that the same model used here in Sanford?
We will be primarily starting operations from the airport which is a bit different from our traditional model in which the clinical team is shared between the hospitals and LifeFlight. We are working closely with Southern Maine Healthcare, York Hospital, and Maine Medical Center to integrate operations.
GC: Can you explain how LifeFlight integrates with more traditional emergency services?
LifeFlight doesn't begin to replace the emergency system. 9-1-1, EMS, municipal first responders are the front line. Every 60 seconds a 911 dispatcher takes a call about an emergency medical situation. Every 2.5 minutes, an ambulance delivers a patient for emergency care. What LifeFlight uniquely does is care for people with time-based injury and illness who need the hospital to come to them or who need to maintain a hospital level of care. It gives these patients a chance they wouldn't otherwise have - about 3,500 per year in Maine. Without LifeFlight, we just couldn't bridge the geography in time to make it happen.
"What LifeFlight uniquely does is care for people with time-based injury and illness who need the hospital to come to them or who need to maintain a hospital level of care. It gives these patients a chance they wouldn't otherwise have." - Tom Judge
GC: The LifeFlight of Maine website has some incredible stories about the service and the people whose lives it has impacted. Do you have a favorite you would like to share?
Obviously we have to respect confidentiality so I can't share too many details but one of the stories on the website really illustrates what we do. Several years ago we were on the island of Vinalhaven doing some teaching with emergency services personnel. Beepers started to go off and the EMTs jumped in an ambulance and left. A couple of minutes later, the fire department beepers went off and they left. A couple of minutes after that, we got a call that LifeFlight was needed. A young mother who was otherwise healthy and full term in her pregnancy was unconscious and bleeding out in her house, with very faint pulse and no fetal heart tones. The personnel from the clinic had started an IV but the mother was dying and needed immediate care. It was a 22 minute flight from Vinalhaven to Bangor, 27 minutes to Portland, and that was too long. We called Pen Bay Hospital across the bay and told them we would be there in five minutes. They were able to save both the mother and the child. Every year we get a photograph from the family of the girl, who is now 12.
Two weeks after she was born, everyone got together again and people were telling us it was a miracle. But that miracle was really wathe system that we have worked so hard to get in place working the way it should. 150 people did exactly the right thing at the right time to save those lives: the 9-1-1 dispatcher, emergency services, EMS, the doctors. Four of those people were LifeFlight. When we've saved a life, it's because the system really worked. The sum of all our efforts, the whole, is greater than our individual efforts.
To learn more about LifeFlight of Maine, visit their website