More than 20 Maine emergency medical services personnel attended the Rising Tide Non-Profit EMS Sustainability Roundtable Conference May 31.

The LifeFlight Foundation hosted the all-day conference for nonprofit and small municipal agencies to discuss town governance and current funding concerns; as well as brainstorm effective ways to raise funds, increase retention and other topics.

The conference, held at the American Legion Hall in Camden, was created to help the many nonprofit and municipal EMS agencies that struggle to stay in operation. The event was funded with a grant from the Maine Health Access Foundation and a portion of a generous bequest from Bagaduce Ambulance, which ceased operations in December 2011 citing a lack of volunteers.

The day proved a success thanks to an unprecedented sharing of organizational challenges, successes and opportunities for these small but absolutely vital emergency medical agencies.

“Leaders of these organizations are faced with immense challenges to secure funding, maintain relationships with town governments, and recruit and retain licensed EMS personnel,” said Thomas Judge, LifeFlight of Maine executive director, in a news release.

The day was facilitated by John Dietter, an advanced EMT with North Haven EMS and former executive director of the nonprofit Hurricane Island Foundation. Pen Williamson, former development director for The LifeFlight Foundation, gave a presentation called Fundraising 101. Harvey Rudisaile, a retired hospital administrator, discussed financial planning issues with the group, and Judge delivered a talk on board governance. The presentations were followed by organizational success stories from around the state, and a discussion of common challenges and possible solutions.

Nurse Practitioner Dorie Henning, who works at the North Haven Clinic, and Wilderness EMT April Brown, who serves as crew chief of North Haven EMS, talked about the unique arrangement between North Haven’s town-run clinic and its municipal EMS service, approved by Maine EMS in 2008. Clinic personnel (nurse practitioners and physician assistants) respond on all EMS calls, provide Advanced Life Support, assist in conducting trainings and participate in quality assurance reviews with the EMS team. This arrangement allows the remote, isolated community of North Haven to be served at a high level that would otherwise be unattainable.

Peninsula Ambulance Board Member and Development Committee Chairman Sarah Cox discussed the growth of her organization’s development effort. Peninsula Ambulance serves the Blue Hill peninsula and surrounding towns.

Participants brainstormed ways to overcome the current challenges faced in EMS and began networking immediately at the conference. One networking opportunity was arranging exchange programs between agencies on the mainland and those on Maine’s many islands. The goal of the exchange programs is to help reduce responder fatigue on the mainland while giving islanders the opportunity to respond to more calls on the mainland to gain experience.

The conference highlighted many topics of concern and created a list of follow up items for future conferences.

“These small, rural, nonprofit agencies are a vital link to the chain of survival,” said Judge. “I’ve been a paramedic for more than 30 years and know the importance of having a network of colleagues who understand the struggles agencies face in daily operations. The conference was a huge success because these agencies were able to share their similar situations and now have a new network to share ideas with.”

To learn more about LifeFlight, please visit or call 270-230-7092.