Dispatcher guides couple through childbirth by phone

An emergency dispatcher’s job can be a somber one, summoning rescue units or police to a crime scene or car crash.

But once in a while, it’s joyful.

Staci O’Leary was working at the Gray Regional Communications Center Sunday when a 911 call came in at 1 a.m. from a man whose wife was in labor. They thought they had time to get from Casco to the hospital — but didn’t.

O’Leary relied on her emergency medical dispatch card for baby delivery and guided the father and mother through the birth.

They were on the phone less than 20 minutes.

“We heard the baby cry. Everything went as well as it could,” O’Leary said. “I was just terrifically happy to be part of such a wonderful experience.

“I had a smile on my face for the rest of the night.”

A rescue unit arrived to take the couple — and their new son — to the hospital.


Acadia getting $2.6 million to improve its infrastructure

Maine’s Acadia National Park will get $2.6 million in federal stimulus funding to improve roads and restore culverts and stonework throughout the park.

The National Park Service has awarded the contract for the work to Sargent Corp. in Orono.

Maine’s congressional delegation said Tuesday that the funding will create good-paying jobs in Hancock County and preserve and protect a Maine treasure that draws thousands of visitors each year.


Hospital, church working to take supplies to Haitians

Southern Maine Medical Center is working with a Cape Porpoise church to take medical supplies and personal care products to earthquake victims in Haiti.

Eight missionaries from Church on the Cape are part of a Haiti-bound team from Partners in Development Inc., a New England based nonprofit that has worked to build self-sufficient communities in Haiti for 20 years.

The group will be taking 50 boxes of personal care items, as well as over-the-counter medicine. The hospital has already donated hydraulic stretchers, medical supply cabinets and an ECG unit and employees have donated $2,500 to the American Red Cross and $5,100 to Doctors Without Borders.


Wescott, other Olympians will meet president today

Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott will be among a contingent of U.S. Olympians to meet President Obama today at the White House.

Wescott, who struck gold for a second time in snowboardcross in Vancouver this winter, has been on a snowboarding trip in Alaska since last month.

He left Monday to travel to the nation’s capital. Details of the visit have not yet been released, but the president’s address to the athletes will air at 3:30 p.m. today at the Team USA website.

Wescott will head back to Alaska following the visit, then return to Washington to be a guest of USA Today at the White House Correspondents dinner on May 1.


Former Husson president, blueberry grower dies at 84

Delmont “Del” Merrill, blueberry grower and past-president of Husson University, has died at age 84. A Husson official said Merrill, who died Monday, had battled leukemia.

Merrill served as Husson’s president from 1978 to 1987 before leaving academia to run the family blueberry business, Merrill Blueberry Farms, where he served as president. The World War II veteran also served as a professor, athletic director, administrator and coach at Husson.

Husson President Robert Clark said he’ll be remembered for “his dedication, his patriotism, his love of his family, and his commitment to Husson.”


UMaine investigating prank that left student lost, cold

The University of Maine is investigating whether a fraternity initiation prank that ended with a student lost in the woods violated university rules.

Authorities say 19-year-old Joshua Gilmore of Levant was exhibiting signs of hypothermia when he walked out of the woods Saturday afternoon. The Down East Emergency Medicine Institute said Gilmore’s body temperature had dropped to about 94 degrees, and he was disoriented.

Gilmore and other Sigma Chi fraternity pledges were sent into the woods Saturday night dressed in jackets and ties to search for an item.

Robert Dana, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, told the Bangor Daily News that Gilmore is back on campus and “doing well.


Historical society postpones lecture by British author

Nick Bunker, who was scheduled to speak at a Maine Historical Society event Thursday in Portland, has postponed because of the air-travel difficulties in Europe resulting from the volcanic ash from Iceland.

Bunker is the author of “Making Haste From Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History.” His book offers a new perspective on the history of the Mayflower.

The British author made two trips to Maine, traveling the Kennebec Valley to research the fur trade that financed the Plymouth Colony. The historical society will try to reschedule the appearance for later in the year.

Students to hunt for ghosts at Portland High tonight

Students in the new media program at Portland Arts and Technology High School will be ghost-hunting at Portland High School tonight.

Portland High is the nation’s second-oldest continuously operating public high school and it has long been rumored to have paranormal activity in several areas of the building, school officials said.

The 16-student class will use voice recorders, low-light cameras, hands-off laser temperature gauges and electromagnetic frequency readers to monitor the school’s auditorium, art room and library. Students Jon Mikkelsen and Rocco Didonato, who attend Portland High, suggested the locations.

“They pitched the idea to Portland High Principal Michael Johnson and he loved the concept,” said David Beane, new media teacher at the regional vocational school. “The students went full bore in preparing for the taping.”

Students are modeling their investigation after the television series “Ghost Hunters” on the Syfy Channel. Students Andrea Brown, Madison Gavin and Sydney Cole will host the show.

The students will conduct their investigation from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., searching for “proof positive” of paranormal activity at the high school, school officials said.

After reviewing audio and video recordings, new media students will produce a half-hour show for local cable TV channels.


Maine native named chief operating officer at hospital

Maine native Jeff Sanders has been appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer for Maine Medical Center, hospital officials announced today.

Sanders will start the job on June 7. He last worked at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, where he was operating officer in charge of cardiovascular services, imaging services, sleep services, hyperbaric medicine, surgical services, transplant services and medical research.

Sanders was born in Millinocket and grew up in Gray.

As chief operating officer, Sanders will be responsible for day-to-day operations of the hospital. His efforts will focus on service and operational excellence, program growth, quality, culture enhancement and physician relationships.

Maine Medical Center is the state’s largest medical center, with 637 licensed beds and 6,000 employees.


Rangers going door-to-door seeking information on fires

The Maine Forest Service is sending rangers door-to-door in Washington County to seek information on possible suspects in a series of wildfires that have plagued the area over the past month.

More than 30 fires have been reported, Ranger Courtney Hammond said. Most of the fires have been relatively small.

Some of the blazes were typical spring fires, but others — he wouldn’t say how many — were arson, he said.

Investigators believe more than one person was involved, Hammond said.


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