911 dispatcher recognized as a real ‘life saver’

Thu, 08/24/2023 - 8:45am

It was anything but a typical day on the job for county emergency dispatcher Mike Johnson. In July, he received a 911 call from Nobleboro with a frantic caller seeking assistance for his unconscious friend who was not breathing. Johnson recognized from the caller’s description his friend needed CPR. So Johnson brought up his CPR protocol on his console and instructed the friend on the life-saving procedure. After the friend administered first aid, the man was transported to a local hospital, and later released.

For 911 dispatchers, this is typically the story’s end. But first responders recognized the friend for being a Good Samaritan. Later, the friend told first responders how a 911 dispatcher assisted him. The ambulance service also recognized Johnson as a Good Samaritan, and on Aug. 15, Lincoln County commissioners presented him with a “Life Saver Award.”

Communications Director Tara Doe presented Johnson with a certificate. “That’s why we do what we do,” Doe said. “I’m so excited Mike was able to save a life.” Johnson appreciated being recognized for doing his job. “Whether it’s a fire or medical call, we don’t often know what happened afterwards. It was satisfying to know how this one ended,” he said. 

In other action, Doe updated commissioners on a change in dispatching emergency information. The center converted to digital radio communication two years ago, but the transition has not been smooth. Doe told commissioners the center is temporarily returning to analog communications. “We will continue to adapt to digital through improved equipment, but we made the decision a few weeks ago to return to analog,” she said. “The (digital) connection isn’t as strong throughout the county as it is around the state. Due to safety reasons, we are going back to analog for the law side of calls.”

Chief Deputy Rand Maker filled in for Sheriff Todd Brackett. He sought approval to buy three new vehicles. Commissioners unanimously approved all three purchases. A 2023 Ford hybrid SUV will arrive the week of Aug. 21. The SUV cost $46,945. Maker told commissioners the department is still awaiting receipt of four previously ordered vehicles. “Quirk contacted us, and said they had a vehicle on their lot ready for sale. It wasn’t one we ordered, but it met our specifications,” he said.

The second vehicle purchased is a 2023 Chevy Tahoe. Maker said the vehicle is ideal for the department’s K-9 program. “We would like to have two K-9 divisions. So, we are looking to purchase another one next year.” The Tahoe cost $44,987.96.

The third vehicle is one of three 2023 Ford SUVs ordered in January. Maker expects delivery next month. The vehicle cost $46,765. Commissioners also approved $5,016.65 to equip a new vehicle with emergency equipment. Commissioners also approved a contract with Kieve/Wavus to host an alternate sentencing program in October. The camp is charging $2,200 for a week.

Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Knox and Waldo counties are collaborating on jail operations. The board has an administrator from each jail, all four county sheriffs, and two county representatives. Lincoln County commissioners appointed Commissioner Hamilton Meserve and County Administrator Carrie Kipfer as their representatives. 

Lincoln County Historical Association is receiving $22,500 to repair its headquarters at the old county jail in Wiscasset. Commissioners approved using the entire community program reserve account balance, $21,792, and $792 from contingency.

Commissioners authorized a heat pump replacement at the Registry of Deeds. The county contracted with Heat Pumps of Maine in Lewiston for $6,100. Heat Pumps of Maine will remove the current system and install a 15,000 British thermal unit heat pump.

Commissioners held an executive session on a personnel matter. After the session, commissioners adjourned without taking any further action.