Sgt. Jamie Fanning with Aki in 2015. Fanning is one of three members of the Bangor Police Department recognized for saving a man's life. Credit: Evan Belanger / BDN

Typically, Sgt. Jamie Fanning of the Bangor Police Department will meet up with her friend, Penobscot County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Haefele, for wings and camaraderie at a local restaurant, the week after both have drill weekend with the Maine Air National Guard.

This time, however, they decided to meet up for wings the week prior to drill weekend, and to bring a couple other uniformed friends along — Bangor Police Lieutenant Cathy Rumsey and officer Kim Donnell.

Their change of plans ended up putting the off-duty officers in the right place at the right time, as Fanning, Rumsey and Donnell saved the life of another patron at the restaurant, who was overdosing on drugs.

Their quick thinking was recognized by the Bangor City Council at its meeting on Monday night, with an official proclamation read by council chair Dan Tremble, who said he plans to more regularly recognize city employees and citizens of Bangor who do extraordinary things.

“I hope to be able to recognize many more city employees and citizens of Bangor who are doing great things day in and day out during this pandemic,” Tremble said.

Fanning said she and her fellow officers had just paid their bill and were getting ready to leave when a sudden commotion in the restaurant drew their attention. A man had slumped over in his chair and then fell onto the floor.

To the officers, who see individuals overdosing on drugs regularly, they knew exactly what was happening with the man, and luckily, Fanning, Rumsey and Donnell knew just what to do.

Rumsey called 911, Fanning began performing CPR on the man, and Donnell ran out to Fanning’s car in the parking lot, where she always keeps Narcan in case she encounters someone who is overdosing.

Narcan, or naloxone, is a drug that can reverse the effect of an opioid overdose, and is carried by most police officers in Bangor.

“I am glad we were there that night, because many people do not know how to react to this issue,” said Fanning, who is also a handler for Aki, one of Bangor’s police dogs. “I’m glad we were there to give him the life saving measures, and Narcan, he needed, and get him breathing again.”

Fanning said that it wouldn’t have mattered if she and her colleagues were on- or off-duty — they’d have reacted the same way.

“Without hesitation, we reacted as we normally would if we were on duty,” Fanning said. “I can also honestly say that any member of our department would act the way we did off duty if they were in the same circumstance.”

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.