MACHIAS, Maine — An 87-year-old Jonesboro man was in the right place at the right time, and now he will be able to celebrate the holidays with his family and friends.
Just before 2 p.m., three days before Thanksgiving, Carlton Look was experiencing chest pains and went to Dr. David Rioux’s medical office, where staff told him to go directly to the emergency room at Down East Community Hospital because Rioux was not in.
“[Look and his wife, Lenita] left the office, and Lenita returned to say that Carlton had passed out,” a statement issued by the doctor’s office said Monday.
At about the same time, Washington County Regional Communication Center dispatcher Adam Davis, who also is a part-time deputy, had just come out of the doctor’s office. He was there with his son to see his son’s pediatrician. When Davis went to his vehicle, he saw Look slumped forward in his vehicle.
“At first I didn’t know if he was asleep,” Davis said Monday. “I went to go around the truck, and all kinds of people came running out of the doctor’s office.”
Madeleine Farren, who works for Rioux, called 911 for an ambulance. Emergency medical dispatcher Cindy Rossi answered the call.
Jill McDonald, a registered nurse, checked Look and found no pulse. She also noted he was not breathing.
McDonald and Theresa Parent, a nurse at the hospital, were able to get Look out of his vehicle and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Physician’s assistant Alf Wakeman and pediatrician Dr. Richard Gibbs joined them.
“I asked if they had an AED [automatic external defibrillator],” Davis said. Farren brought one from the doctor’s office.
Davis told the medical staff that he had recently been recertified in the use of a defibrillator. They told him to set it up, while they continued CPR. It was the first time he had used it on a person, he said.
There was no question that the medical staff knew how to use the defibrillator, but they were busy administering CPR, Mike Hinerman, director of the Washington County Emergency Management Agency, said Monday. “Adam was free to set the AED up.”
Once the machine was hooked up to Look, its instruments indicated to Davis that the patient needed to be shocked.
One shock by the machine did it, and Look regained a pulse.
“They had a pulse monitor out there; he had an almost normal pulse by that point,” Davis said.
An ambulance took Look to the Machias hospital.
“Carlton not only had a pulse, but he was actually talking at the [emergency room] in Machias. He later was transferred to EMMC [Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor] by LifeFlight,” the statement said.
Rossi said she was proud of Davis. “It takes an unselfish person to respond and do this type of thing,” she said.
Defibrillators are located in area schools, fire and police departments and physicians’ offices around the county. There is one at the county courthouse complex. “And this is something anybody can learn taking a CPR course,” Rossi said.
Davis recommended to those who have defibrillators to make certain the batteries are charged and the equipment is up to standards for use by trained personnel.
“In the above-mentioned situation [of] dialing 911, teamwork and public awareness [about] the importance of the AED accessibility were critical factors in this successful outcome,” the statement added.