Salesman saves Friendship couple who had been overcome by carbon monoxide for 2 days

Posted Nov. 14, 2012, at 2:57 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 14, 2012, at 6:22 p.m.

FRIENDSHIP, Maine — Robert Phillips was in Friendship on Friday afternoon on a sales call when he decided to stop in and see a couple who had purchased something from him two years earlier.

That impromptu decision saved the lives of Alexander and Harriet Cummings.

Phillips, who works for Aerus, which sells vacuum cleaners and air purifier filters, said he was in Friendship shortly after noon when he decided he would knock on the doors of some former customers.

He noticed a vehicle was in the driveway at the Cummings’ home but no one answered when he knocked on the door.

“I don’t know why but I had a funny feeling,” Phillips said.

So he went around to the back of the house and knocked on another door. At that point, he could hear a noise coming from inside that sounded like someone in distress.

Phillips kicked in the door and found the couple stuck between their bed and the wall. They had become partially overcome by carbon monoxide and had fallen off the bed, Phillips said. He said the couple had been there for two days.

He went outside and dialed 911 although he was not sure he had made a clear connection because of the poor cellphone reception on the peninsula.
He then flagged down a neighbor who went to another neighbor’s house and they also called 911 to make sure emergency crews had been contacted. Phillips then went back inside to check on the couple.

“The first thing Harriet asked for was a glass of Ensure,” he said, which he got and helped her to drink.

Within 10 minutes, an ambulance crew arrived and transported the couple to Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta.

Their son Shawn Smith said Wednesday that the couple remains at Miles.
Alexander Cummings is 91 years old and his wife is 76.

“They have a long way to go,” he said.

A Miles Memorial spokesman said Wednesday afternoon the Cummings’ conditions were both stable.

When reached by phone in her hospital room late Wednesday afternoon, Harriet Cummings confirmed that Phillips had rescued the couple, but did not feel up to commenting further.

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