Warren to reevaluate ambulance service

Expands mutual aid from Waldoboro
By Beth A. Birmingham | Dec 16, 2013
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Bill Lufkin, with more than 13 years of service with Warren Ambulance Service, speaks to attendants at a special meeting Dec. 16 to review the ambulance service protocol in light of a Dec. 11 incident. Right of him is Rick Petrie, executive director of Atlantic Partners EMS.

Warren — A special meeting was called Dec. 16 to implement arrangements for the Warren Ambulance Service following the death of a 2-month-old Dec. 11.

The Board of Selectmen and Town Manager Elaine Clark were set to appoint Richard Lash, Emergency Medical Services director for Waldoboro, as acting ambulance service director of Warren through Jan. 31, 2014 in place of Polly Wood, director of the Warren Ambulance Service. Wood had been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of the incident.

However, after hearing from several ambulance service personnel and further discussion, the board decided to maintain its current course of leadership until further investigation. Wood had been reinstated prior to the special meeting, but remains on medical leave for a couple more days.

In the end of the nearly hour and a half meeting with more than 30 residents and EMS personnel present, the board motioned for Waldoboro EMS — with Warren Ambulance Service first responders — to be toned simultaneously Mondays through Thursdays, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Jan. 31, 2014.

Warren's per diem schedule — with its five full-time volunteers — will continue as normal with coverage from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and 24 hours Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

"We shouldn't be having this meeting," said Bill Lufkin, who has more than 13 years of experience with the Warren Ambulance Service.

"We are in the same boat as others are in," he said, adding "that's why we have protocols. You have to trust the people that work for the town."

Lufkin noted that the 12- to 24-hour shifts are difficult to cover, given the fact the volunteers have other full-time jobs and find it hard to commit to that length of a shift.

"We have been a little lax at signing up," he said.

This was confirmed by Clark who discovered during her recent investigation of the schedules that many shifts were completely blank.

"Nobody is knee-jerking here," said Selectman Michael York. "We are just looking to see if anything needs to change for the town."

York agreed there is an appropriate protocol in place, but questioned "Why wait if there is no coverage."

"I much appreciate your time and effort to what could be a thankless job," said York of the EMS personnel.

Selectman Arnold Hill asked what the cost would be to have Waldoboro's assistance.

"There would be no cost as we would bill the insurance company for the calls we respond to," said Lash.

Lash, who has been in EMS for 19 years, is a resident of Warren.

"The potential is there for Waldoboro EMS to be more involved," said Lash in an email Dec. 16.

"I want to make it clear that Waldoboro EMS will do what we can to help our neighbors in Warren through this transition period," said Lash.

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, according to Clark.

“The infant was sleeping with his mother when she awoke to find him unresponsive,” said Steve McCausland, Maine Public Safety spokesman of the Maine State Police Department.

It is standard procedure for State Police to investigate the death of a child under the age of three.

An autopsy has been performed and additional tests are being done to determine the cause of death, according to McCausland.

“There is no suspicion of foul play,” said McCausland.

Knox County Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy Joslyn and the infant's mother provided CPR until the ambulance arrived, said Sheriff Donna Dennison.

McCausland said this is the second tragedy the woman has faced this year, as her boyfriend was struck and killed earlier in the year along Route 1 in Warren.

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

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