WINTER HARBOR — Small-town fire departments in Maine have to respond to all sorts of situations. Perhaps a brush fire, a rescue on the water, or responding to a 911 call in a rural area.
For the Winter Harbor Fire Department, one of those responsibilities now includes providing ambulance service to the Schoodic Peninsula.
“County Ambulance was our transport service,” said Fire Chief Tate McLean, referring to the ambulance service that closed in August. “Knowing what was going to happen, myself and a few others went ahead and got licensed through the state of Maine as an ambulance transport service. And we were able to recruit a few other people as emergency medical technicians.”
With those certifications, Winter Harbor and the adjoining town of Gouldsboro both have an ambulance nearby that can transport patients the 25 miles to Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital in Ellsworth. The ambulance itself was donated to the department last year by Cypress Creek EMS in Houston, with the help of Winter Harbor resident Kaye Rosenquist.
“Because we represent both the Winter Harbor and Gouldsboro departments and have volunteers from both towns, we came up with the name Schoodic EMS,” McLean said.
Along with McLean, who is a full-time employee and fire chief for both Winter Harbor and Gouldsboro, there are 14 volunteer EMS technicians. McLean tries to keep at least two people on call at all times. In an average year, the ambulance might be dispatched around 200 times, and since August volunteer Ken McCartney estimated that the ambulance had transported 15 patients.
The department also has welcomed several new volunteer EMTs this year, including husband and wife team Arik and Hannah McCartney.
“You learn a lot of hands on skills,” said Arik McCartney of the training. “You’ve got to know how to do things by the book, but also be able to step outside of that.”
The certification was conducted through Atlantic Partners EMS, and involved twice-weekly classes and 180 total hours of instruction.
“You learn how to handle patients and how to diagnose them,” said Ken McCartney. “Pharmacology, treating trauma, CPR, ambulance operations. It’s all-encompassing.”