In recognition of Emergency Medical Services Week, Gov. John Baldacci on Thursday honored eight outstanding individuals who routinely put their skills and their lives on the line to save the lives of others.
Included among the award recipients were Emergency Medical Technician Fred Parsons of Presque Isle, Emergency Medical Technician James Wilmerding of Northeast Harbor and dispatch supervisor Tracey Erikson of Bangor.
Others honored included Dr. Steven Diaz, the state EMS medical director and Barbara Woodlee, the retiring president of Kennebec Valley Community College in Augusta, site of the state’s first full-time EMS training program.
The event also recognized Maine’s newest “HeartSafe Communities” — cities and towns where there is rapid access to the health care system, where automatic defibrillators are readily available and where emergency responders excel in public education about the signs of heart attack and choking.
There are now 51 HeartSafe Communities in Maine, counting the 14 announced on Thursday. The responder agencies honored at the Hall of Flags ceremony included the Brewer Fire Department, the C.A. Dean Hospital EMS program in Greenville, the Camden First Aid Association, the Hampden Fire Department, the Hermon Volunteer Rescue and First Aid program, the Old Town Fire Department and the Union Fire Department.
Also in recognition of EMS Week, St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor announced Thursday a new program aimed at keeping youngsters safe while they are in emergency care. The Colors Save Kids program establishes a color-coding system to help ensure that infants and children receive doses of medications that are appropriate for their age and weight and that equipment such as intravenous tubing is correctly sized for their smaller bodies.
Director of Emergency and Surgical Services Judy Street said Thursday that although St. Joseph Hospital does not have an inpatient pediatric unit, children of all ages are brought to the emergency department for all manner of urgent and emergency care. All emergency department nurses hold advanced pediatric certifications, she said, and the new system will further ensure that children are treated promptly and safely, she said.
“And if they need to be transferred, EMS is there like Johnny on the Spot,” she said. In honor of the ambulance crews they work with, the emergency department at St. Joseph Hospital has been hosting impromptu potluck meals all week.