SABATTUS — Stephen MacDonald, a dedicated paramedic and firefighter for the city of Portland who had a passion for serving the community, died on Nov. 22. He was 51.

Mr. MacDonald joined the Portland Fire Department in 1981 as a paramedic. He was assigned to the city’s Allen Avenue station, Medical Crisis Unit 4. He also worked per diem as a paramedic for cities and towns around Greater Portland and as a flight medic for AirMed and Life Flight of Maine.

His longtime girlfriend, Sylvia Hull, a paramedic for the Portland Fire Department, said Tuesday that he was more than a paramedic – he took time to care for the city’s most vulnerable people. She recalled the time Mr. MacDonald made a cup of tea for an elderly woman.

“It’s not all lights and sirens and a mad dash to the hospital. A lot of the job is caring for people,” Hull said. “He was born to be a paramedic. He just loved it so much. He made a difference. He touched a lot of lives.”

Fire Chief Fred LaMontagne said Mr. MacDonald’s passing is a “great loss” to the department and the city.

“He was one of the most caring and giving paramedics I know,” LaMontagne said. “He was devoted to his work. He practiced with such a degree of professionalism. Many admired his devotion, his work ethic and his commitment to helping people.”

Mr. MacDonald began his career in emergency medicine when he was a student at Scarborough High School. He joined the school’s student rescue team in 1976. The program trains students to assist the Scarborough Rescue Department.

Michael Thurlow, who is now Scarborough’s fire chief, joined the team, too. He remembers the days when they would leave class to respond to emergencies.

“We would run across the street and jump in the truck and respond with the rescue,” Thurlow said. “He enjoyed his work in public safety. Being in the brotherhood of the fire service and serving the community were always important to Stevie.”

Mr. MacDonald’s friends say he was the type of guy people could count on for help or support. Hull said he put a new roof on his elderly neighbor’s house and helped his friend build a house.

“Stephen nailed his hand to the roof with the nail gun,” Hull said, laughing. “He went off and got it fixed and came back to help him. That’s the kind of guy he was.”

Mr. MacDonald was described by his friends Tuesday as a fun, happy and outgoing person who liked to travel, cook and play golf.

Hull said they lived together for the past 12 years. She said they enjoyed traveling, and visited Mexico, the Grand Canyon and St. Lucia. She said he played golf on many of their trips.

“We had a lot of fun,” she said. “Life with Stephen was never boring.”

Hull and Mr. MacDonald met at work but never got married. He didn’t have children but had a close relationship with her children and grandchildren, she said.

Mr. MacDonald left work in April to help Hull after her knee replacement surgery. During that time, his health declined. He had liver disease, caused by taking high doses of a medication in the early 1990s.

He died Nov. 22 at the Hospice House in Auburn. Hull and many of his friends came to visit in the week before he died.

“He was amazing,” she said. “I’ll miss his presence.”

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]