SANFORD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- LifeFlight of Maine held an open house on Sunday to show off its new base located at the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport.
The Sanford base is the third in Maine, along with Lewiston and Bangor.
Base manager Heather Cady, who worked at Lewiston base at Central Maine Medical Center from 1998 to 2017, said the new location will help them respond to incidents faster in rural areas far from hospitals.
"One of the things that has been missing in this area is timely response of critical care transport," said Cady. "This just gives us that little bit of extra ability to respond quickly and get our team to the patient that needs to be transferred. We bring the hospital environment, the ICU environment, directly to the bedside."
LifeFlight is the only ambulance service in Maine that carries blood on board for patients who are suffering from severe blood loss. They carry two units of universal donor blood.
The crews are able to perform more procedures than many ground crews, ones that involve medications, IVs, or working on patients' airways.
"Once those blades start spinning and you're 2,000 feet in the air, your heart starts pumping because you've got to make some quick thoughts and you've got to be on your A game for sure," said Billy Stuart, a fliught paramedic.
Helicopters can fly at 170 miles per hour, and can get to scenes, and subsequently to hospitals, faster than many ground crews. Melissa Arndt with LifeFlight of Maine said helicopters can travel from Bangor to Fort Kent in about 70 minutes. Before the Sanford base opened, it would take crews about 30 minutes to fly from Lewiston to certain areas of York County, such as Lebanon or Kittery. Now, a crew can get to Kittery from Sanford in about eight minutes.
"It literally is the difference between life and death in a lot of situations," said Stuart.
Cady said providing that critical care to patients soon after an incident improves the patient's outcome.
"We actually bring the hospital to the patient quicker than what they were receiving before," said Cady. "When you have a flight that you truly know you've saved somebody's life or impacted their life, that's unmeasurable."
"You just try to remember that this is probably the worst day of their life, so we're just trying to be the best part of their worst day," said Stuart.