May 21, 2013

Rangeley ambulance crew feted for long-distance rescue

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

RANGELEY — Three NorthStar ambulance employees were recently honored by Rangeley Fire and Rescue for rescuing an injured man 30 miles from their base and transporting him 64 miles to the nearest hospital.

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Harold Schaetzle

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Steve Grant

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Paramedic Jeremy O'Neil said the men received a transferred 911 call about a man who suffered a spinal injury in a fall during a storm Aug. 10 on Caribou Island in Parmachenee Lake in northern Oxford County.

Ambulance driver Steve Grant, base supervisor Harold Schaetzle, and O'Neil took off with Rangeley Fire and Rescue volunteers to the scene of the accident 30 miles northwest of the NorthStar base. When they arrived at the lake shore, O'Neil said, it was still heavily raining and windy. He said a few of the first responders climbed into a boat that had been found for the operation, found the man on the island, who was with his friends, and took him back to the ambulance waiting on the shore.

They then took him to the nearest hospital, Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin, N.H., which was 64 miles away.

"That call was definitely one for the books," O'Neil said.

He said Fire Chief Tim Pellerin should be commended for professionally directing the situation after only one month on the job.

O'Neil said while that was a particularly long-distance rescue, it is not unusual for the ambulance crew to get called to emergencies far from the base.

He said Rangeley NorthStar is responsible for 1,100 square miles of Maine's rural northwest, stretching west to the New Hampshire border and north to the Canadian border.

The area they cover is not populated with enough year-round residents to support more medical services, he said, but it is a popular spot for outdoor recreation and many of their medical calls involve visitors injured during outdoor activities.

The three men were presented with plaques from Rangeley Fire and Rescue on May 11.

O'Neil said that during his 12 years with NorthStar, the ambulance crew has never before been formally recognized for their services from the fire department and the men were taken aback and appreciative of the praise.

Kaitlin Schroeder -- 861-9252
kschroeder@mainetoday.com

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Jeremy O'Neil

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