To the Editor:
On Thursday evening, March 1, the Waldoboro Fire Department was activated to respond to a possible structure fire at 720 Winslow’s Mills Road. While enroute to the scene, we were advised that the resident was most likely still inside. Following this realization, a series of events led to the successful rescue of the occupant.
My hands were merely one set of many that led to this terrific outcome.
Had the woman’s neighbor, Mr. Benjamin Oullette, hesitated to call 9-1-1 or had he gone next door to investigate prior to calling, a delay in notification would have taken place, wasting minutes that were not available. He then went outside and met Waldoboro Police Detective Lance Mitchell and told him he was sure she was inside.
Detective Mitchell’s communications provided me the necessary information which in turn allowed me to prepare for what needed to be done.
When I returned to the door from inside the residence, Firefighter-EMT Jordan Powell of Waldoboro EMS and Bristol Fire Department, was on the porch outside and with the assistance of Det. Mitchell pulled her out of the building. Paramedic Mike Poli was just off the porch and quickly assessed the patient and instructed us to move fast in transporting her to the ambulance.
I contacted Lincoln County Communication Center and requested more EMS personnel for assistance. The dispatchers monitored our on-scene communications, reported updates and requested resources throughout the night as I directed. They did so with professionalism that was second to none.
Waldoboro EMS and the Emergency Room staff at Miles Memorial Hospital saved the woman’s life, and later that evening, she was transported by Waldoboro EMS to Maine Medical Center in Portland.
When the ambulance had left the scene for Miles, I turned to face our next challenge, suppressing the fire that initiated this incident.
Within minutes, the first fire units from the Waldoboro, Warren, Jefferson and Nobleboro Fire departments arrived, bringing with them a group of the finest trained professionals I have had the privilege of working with. Firefighters under the operational direction of Deputy Chief Dale Smith and Assistant Chief Bill Maxwell, fought the blaze and prevented the fire from consuming the entire structure.
Our department is honored to have the mutual-aid support from our neighboring communities in both Lincoln and Knox Counties.
The outcome of this incident was successful on all levels due to the dedication, hard work and unparalleled team work by all of the public safety departments in the Town of Waldoboro and our mutual-aid partners.
Around the time this incident began, Waldoboro Police Chief Bill Labombarde was having dinner with his family at Moody’s Diner. When learning of the fire, he left, and responded to assist us on scene.
Over the past several days, I have been contemplating all of the people that had a role in that evening’s event and realized that the largest group of unspoken heroes in our communities are our families. Our families are the ones that remain sitting at the dinner table when we as emergency responders run out. They are the ones gathered around the Christmas tree and birthday cakes when we are absent to respond to an emergency call somewhere else. They are the ones who sit home alone, cancel plans and change schedules on a minute’s notice, all in support of our mission and desire to serve, protect and save neighbors, friends and strangers in our towns.
In the early hours of Friday morning, all the fire trucks were back in service, ambulances parked and all the crews had gone home, Detective Mitchell, FF/EMT Powell, Paramedic Poli and I were at the fire station having finished our interviews with the investigators from the State Fire Marshall’s Office. Before we left, and went home as well, we all said, “this is why we do what we do.”
Paul T. Smeltzer
Fire Chief, Town of Waldoboro