A major gift from Linda Bean is pushing the state’s LifeFlight of Maine medical helicopter service closer to its goal of adding a third chopper and eventually a fixed wing aircraft to continue its role of providing high-level emergency care and transport to remote parts of the state.

Bean, a lifelong Mainer with a history of promoting the state’s lobstering industry, announced a gift of $3 million to the LifeFlight Foundation at an event Thursday in Port Clyde, where some of her business interests are located.

The third helicopter would enhance LifeFlight’s ability to extend advanced medical care to Maine’s islands and remote fishing communities as well as areas of the state where a land-based ambulance could cause critical delays.

“Maine’s natural resource industries, like fishing, farming and forestry, have inherent dangers,” Bean said in a written statement announcing the gift. “And many of our coastal fishing families live on remote islands like Frenchboro, Vinalhaven, Monhegan and Matinicus. When time is of the essence and a person is in trouble, LifeFlight is there with on-board emergency medical equipment and technology that saves many precious lives.”

The donation from Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster amounts to roughly half the foundation’s $6.5 million goal to enable it to purchase the additional helicopter and the sophisticated medical equipment needed to provide the level of care available in a typical hospital intensive care unit, according to the foundation.

The fundraising effort kicked off the summer before last on the island of North Haven when the community raised $150,000, which financier and philanthropist S. Donald Sussman matched. Sussman is the majority owner of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel.

LifeFlight currently has two helicopters, one based at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and one at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. The service started in 1998 and cared for more than 1,600 critically ill and injured patients last year. Growing demand for the service is one reason why the additional helicopter is needed, the foundation said in its release. The foundation is counting on raising the remaining $3 million so that the third helicopter can be purchased and equipped for use by next summer.

Thursday’s announcement was held at the Port Clyde home of Lori Beth and David Schwartz, who donated a nearby ball field for use as a helicopter landing zone. When a car crash at the Monhegan Boat Lines pier killed a 9-year-old boy on vacation and seriously injured several others on Aug. 11, 2013, the nearest helicopter landing zone was in Tenants Harbor, a couple miles away.

“The kind of trauma that brings LifeFlight to our door does not differentiate between our communities, seasonal, full time, tourist, businessperson, fisherman, farmer, young or old, and this proves that love and heart can transcend those boundaries also,” Lori Beth Schwartz said in a note read at Thursday’s event.

For more information about LifeFlight go to: lifeflightmaine.org

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @Mainehenchman

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