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
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. >