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Fire At St. Andrews Hospital On Halloween Extinguished Quickly And Safely

At 2:59 p.m. Sunday October 31, the communications dispatch operator at Boothbay Harbors Fire and Police Department received an emergency call from St. Andrews Hospital.
According to Peggy Pinkham, President/CEO of St. Andrews Hospital and Healthcare Center, smoke and a pronounced foul odor was detected by hospital staff in the proximity of the general patient resident care area, (adjacent to the hospitals old solarium), which precipitated the emergency call.

There was no activation of the hospitals smoke alarm system, according to Boothbay Harbor Fire Chief Glenn Townsend, but the smoke visible in the hospitals solarium area required the page of a structure fire.

Requests for fire and ambulance assistance were issued immediately to all surrounding towns on the Boothbay peninsula. Area fire departments that responded included: Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, East Boothbay, Edgecomb and Southport. Three ambulances responded to the fire, representing Boothbay, Wiscasset and Central Lincoln County (Damriscotta) ambulance services. Boothbay Harbor police and the Lincoln County Sheriffs Department responded to the scene immediately.

A request was immediately placed for a school bus from the Boothbay Harbor School Department for possible patient evacuation duty.

The first fire trucks (BBH#10 and BBH#8) and Boothbay Harbor fire chief Glenn Townsend arrived at the hospital at 3:05 p.m. In short order afterwards seven fire trucks and one ladder with their respective crews representing all adjoining towns arrived on scene.

The exact location of the fire could not be immediately located by the firefighters necessitating a decision be made to protect St. Andrews inhabitants. At 3:25 p.m. (26 minutes into the incident), Townsend said, We decided to evacuate the building of occupants and cut the power and oxygen.

The school bus arrived on scene at 3:26. The hospital staff and emergency personnel working in concert began evacuating the hospitals 13 patients (including two who were in the hospitals operating rooms).

At the same time as the St. Andrews fire, (approximately 3:30 p.m.) the Boothbay Harbor emergency dispatch received word of a traffic accident. Police officers, fire and ambulance personnel responded to a two-car accident in the vicinity of Pension Ridge and Butler roads. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the accident.

The emergency room patients and several other patients were transported to Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta. The remainder of the general care patients were escorted by paramedic crews to the Gregory Wing of St. Andrews Village Managed Care facility.

At no time were any patients in a life-threatening situation, Pinkham said. She added, I cant emphasize strongly enough how impressed I was with the professionalism, degree of care and speed of response provided by this areas emergency response personnel and the staff of this hospital. A thermal imaging device, (belonging to the Boothbay Harbor Fire Department) was deployed to locate the exact location of the fire. The hand-held instrument represents relatively new technology and can sense differentiation of temperatures from 100 degrees fahrenheit to 1500 degrees. The TID has multiple uses including; finding the location of people in a smoke-filled room, searching for people lost in the wilderness and the source of fires.

The source of the electrical fire was located at 3:48 p.m. in a hospital rooms 24-volt nurse-call box system. The decision to kill the hospitals power and oxygen systems ultimately led to the extinguishing of the fire.

With the fire extinguished patients were soon safely escorted back to the hospital.

The speed, care, cooperation and professionalism with which the area emergency personnel handled the St. Andrews fire elicited praise. >

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