LifeFlight of Maine earns high marks during re-accreditation process

Release Date: 11/22/2019 12:00:00 AM

LifeFlight of Maine recently learned that the organization has received full re-accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS).

After months of preparation, LifeFlight of Maine was visited by a CAMTS site surveyor in September for a comprehensive, two-day evaluation of all aspects of the organization. During this latest evaluation process, the CAMTS board noted areas of strength for LifeFlight that included collaboration with rural airports to improve aviation infrastructure in Maine, mental health and resilience training for staff and EMS colleagues, risk assessment tools for the aircraft maintenance crew, and the remote landing zone project.

“We believe it is essential for our patients and the communities we serve, that LifeFlight undergo external assessment of our quality and performance,” explains LifeFlight Executive Director Thomas Judge. “There is a never-ending need to improve our services and, while we always have a working list of risk, safety, and quality projects underway, we are proud that our peers have recognized the work we do each day in taking care of Maine.”

The accreditation process provides an opportunity for LifeFlight to look at every aspect of service to ensure everything is being done to maintain the highest level of patient care and follow the strictest safety standards. The process includes a self-study as well as a site visit to tour aircraft and equipment, and to interview key personnel.  General accreditation standards evaluated during the process include capabilities and resources, clinical care, medical director, continuing education for staff, equipment, communications, quality management, safety, weather minimums, pilot training and community outreach. 

LifeFlight Medical Director Norm Dinerman MD adds a second perspective: “The re-accreditation of LifeFlight of Maine by CAMTS attests to our compliance with the most contemporary standards of critical care transport. It is a recognition of the enormous, focused work effort by so many. It is a charter of excellence.

“However, it is not what our patients notice. They will take note of our compassion, our technical excellence, our continuation of the care initiated by a clinician at a referring hospital or by EMS colleagues. They will take note of the gentleness with which we transport them, our kindness of voice, the warmth of our smile, and the partnership we display with each other as medical providers and aviators. They will take note of our interaction with family members to mitigate their anxiety as their loved one is transported to a distant place. They will place their trust in us to administer the medications they need without error. The charter of excellence which our patients provide is their swift return to health. 

“In essence, we must ‘re-accredit’ ourselves with every patient, every day. This then is what matters most. It is not only what CAMTS asks of us, but what we must ask of ourselves.”

Originally developed through an extensive public comment process and published in 1991, the Accreditation Standards address issues of patient care and safety in fixed and rotary wing services as well as ground interfacility services providing critical care transports. Each standard is supported by measurable criteria to assess a program’s level of quality.

Accreditation Standards are periodically revised to reflect the dynamic, changing environment of medical transport with considerable input from all disciplines of the medical profession and serve as a marker of excellence for federal, state, and local governmental agencies, as well as private agencies and to the general public.

CAMTS is dedicated to improving the quality and safety of medical transport services, with 21 current member organizations each of which sends one representative to the CAMTS Board of Directors. The Commission believes that the two highest priorities of an air medical or ground interfacility transport service are patient care and safety of the transport environment.

LifeFlight of Maine is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit air medical and critical care transport organization. LifeFlight brings lifesaving critical care staff and equipment directly to the patient by helicopter, airplane and ground ambulance. It also provides advanced emergency medical training to Maine’s hospitals, emergency medical services (EMS) and public safety agencies. Overseen by 25 physicians, LifeFlight cares for about 2,300 critically ill and injured patients each year. Since its inception in 1998, LifeFlight has transported more than 27,000 patients from every hospital and nearly all of Maine’s communities and islands.