A LifeFlight of Maine helicopter at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

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With the recent news that LifeFlight of Maine’s founder and CEO, Tom Judge, is stepping down on Oct. 1 after 25 years, we, the people of Maine, owe him an incredible amount of thanks for his leadership and ingenuity in forming one of the best air medical organizations in North America, if not in the world.

During these years, LifeFlight has grown its number of helicopters, while adding a fixed-wing airplane, and ground ambulances for use when weather prevents the aircraft from flying. All of this has been due to a constantly increasing need for service, with over 36,000 patients from every community and hospital in the state.

With the help of the founding medical director Dr. Norm Dinerman from Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, Tom and Norm have overseen only the very best and superbly qualified medical flight teams, pilots, mechanics, communications people, critical care physicians at hospitals throughout the state and engaged support staff.

LifeFlight of Maine has been awarded virtually every honor covering every operational aspect from the Association of Air Medical Service beginning when it was only in its fifth year!

What sets LifeFlight apart is Tom’s continual concern for safety. While he has introduced advanced avionics, vastly improved landing systems and capabilities, night-vision goggles and the like, it has been his insistence that LifeFlight’s crews do not take any chances. That philosophy is inbred in all employees. Tom is a founding member of the Aviation Safety Network of North America.

Both Tom Judge and Norm Dinerman listen to all staff members, with the acknowledged goal being to improve service — and to ultimately save lives. It is fitting that both were just awarded the 2023 Maine EMS Governor’s Award.

I had the honor of working with Tom in establishing the LifeFlight Foundation more than 20 years ago. As a not-for-profit organization, LifeFlight must rely on the generosity of Maine’s people to keep its aircraft flying, its medical crews well trained, and to keep responding to patients’ greatest needs.

I have worked my entire life in this state; there simply is no better run organization than LifeFlight of Maine.

Thank you to Tom Judge!

Pen Williamson