Ambulance service review continues

By Beth A. Birmingham | Jan 09, 2014
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Town Manager Elaine Clark takes a few moments to update the Board of Selectmen on the review to take place on the Warren Ambulance Service. Also pictured is selectman Ed LaFlamme. The item was part of the Jan. 8 meeting agenda.

Warren — Following a December incident involving the death of an infant, an extensive review of the Warren Ambulance Service was requested by Town Manager Elaine Clark.

At the Dec. 23 selectmen's meeting, Clark outlined the process to be completed by Rick Petrie, executive director of Atlantic Partners EMS.

On Jan. 8, Clark reviewed the two-phase process that Petrie will follow. The study will include discussions with ambulance personnel — including Director Polly Wood and Deputy Director Robert Wood Jr. — and other involved parties.

"He will also be speaking with licensed personnel who live in town, but are not on the ambulance service," said Clark.

Petrie will also be reviewing current policies and procedures that are in place.

The review stems from extensive deliberation that ensued at the Dec. 16 meeting — which was called specifically to address protocol following the infant's death Dec. 11. Polly Wood, who had been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, returned to her post prior to the Dec. 23 meeting.

Petrie sees the process as an opportunity to look at where things are going well and where they are not. During the special meeting Dec. 16, Petrie stated he has looked at statistics and dispatch policy and has concluded that Warren's policies are "gray."

He summarized that policies must be in place versus having a culture of "we've always done it this way."

The national standard for response time is two minutes, whereas 53 percent of volunteer services response time is in excess of five minutes, according to Petrie, who noted the slower response time is because people are sleeping.

The Dec. 11 incident was initially toned in to the Warren Ambulance Service at 2:32 a.m. At 2:35 a.m. a second tone was sent to Warren from the Knox County Regional Communications Center in Rockland.

Per protocol, after no response was received from Warren, the dispatch center went to a mutual aid call to Lincoln County Dispatch Center, which sent a call to Waldoboro at 2:38 a.m.

By 2:45 a.m., Waldoboro was enroute, and by 2:51 a.m. was on the scene — 19 minutes after the initial tone.

It has been normal practice that as a volunteer service there have been many times where no one is on call, and Knox County dispatch is not notified of this situation.

"If the Warren volunteer system is retained, it needs more people, more education and training, and iron-clad operating procedures to get the ambulance to the patient as quickly as possible," said Petrie.

Present protocol has Waldoboro Emergency Medical Services providing mutual aid to Warren Mondays through Fridays, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Jan. 31. Warren is responsible for responding to ambulance calls on weekends from 6 a.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Monday.

The study is predicted to take hundreds of hours, according to Petrie — who is conducting the process and only seeking mileage reimbursement.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@courierpublicationsllc.com.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Jan 12, 2014 13:40

Has anyone considered consulting the State Medical Examiner, who did the autopsy, for the cause and manner of death?



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Beth Birmingham
Staff Reporter
594-4401 ext. 125
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Beth rejoined Courier Publications' news staff in February 2013. She previously worked at The Courier-Gazette from 1981 to 1990.

Her coverage area includes Warren, Union, Friendship, Waldoboro, Washington, and Thomaston and RSU40.

Beth has a passion for photography, and a degree from the University of Maine at Augusta, in affiliation with the Maine Photographic Workshop in Rockport.

Aside from photography, Beth enjoys running and walks along the waterfront, as well as other outdoor activities. She has a daughter, Claire, who is 14.

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