SARANAC LAKE - Janice D. Washburn considers herself lucky to be alive.
It was four years ago when the now 55-year-old Keeseville resident was returning to work from her lunch break and noticed something wasn't quite right.
"I started to feel dizzy," Washburn recalled. "I thought I was having a stroke."
Though her memory of that day is still fuzzy, Washburn said she remembers being taken by ambulance to CVPH Medical Center, just minutes away from her office. Upon further evaluation, it was found she had a ruptured brain aneurysm and doctors immediately ordered her to be airlifted to Fletcher Allen Healthcare in Burlington, Vt. - a trip that would have taken much longer by ambulance, said Washburn.
"I only suffered mild disabilities because of how quickly they got me to Burlington," she said.
Though she lost hearing in one ear and occasionally suffers from dizziness, improper balance and short-term memory loss, Washburn said her condition could have been a lot worse if not for North Country Life Flight, the nonprofit medevac service which flew her to Fletcher Allen.
"My head was filling up with blood. If I would have had to ride by ambulance all the way [to Burlington], there would've been even more damage," Washburn said. "My husband and I would even say Life Flight saved my life."
About a year after her incident - a year spent recovering from her aneurysm - Washburn was reviewing her medical bills from that time and realized something was missing.
"I started getting ambulance bills but I noticed there was no bill for the helicopter," she said.
Upon further research, Washburn learned North Country Life Flight is an organization which provides its services at no cost to its patients.
"That was just astounding to me," she said.
Washburn, feeling compelled to help North Country Life Flight continue its mission, then began volunteering her services to help raise funding for the organization.