Maine medics cleared in skier's death
Described skier's death as an unavoidable tragedy under the circumstances, saying believed the investigation found emergency responders did "everything possible" to save skier's life
By David F. Robinson
FARMINGTON, Maine — The state office that oversees emergency medical services has dismissed the complaints against an ambulance service that cared for David Morse, who died en route to the hospital after a skiing accident at the Sugarloaf ski resort earlier this year.
The Maine Emergency Medical Services on Wednesday released the findings of its investigation into allegations by Morse's wife, Dana Morse. She claimed the NorthStar ambulance crew that treated her husband after the accident did not care for him properly.
The investigation looked into the emergency response after David Morse skied off a trail and hit a tree about 3:45 p.m. Jan. 12 and followed the response until after Morse, 41, of Harmony, Nova Scotia, died shortly after 5 p.m. en route to the hospital.
Among the reports findings, the ambulance service has been cleared of any violations of state emergency medical service rules or statutes in connection with the care provided to Morse.
Investigators also confirmed that Dana Morse had been riding in the ambulance taking her husband to the hospital and was dropped off alongside the road in a snowstorm a short distance into the trip, the report states.
When her husband died, the ambulance returned to the ski resort rather than continue to the hospital, about 45 miles away, the report states, adding Dana Morse traveled to the hospital in another vehicle, unaware that her husband had died.
Jay Bradshaw, director of Maine Emergency Medical Services, a division of the state Department of Public Safety, said Wednesday that the ambulance service will face no penalties or sanctions as a result of the investigation.
Bradshaw described Morse's death as an unavoidable tragedy under the circumstances, saying he believes the investigation found emergency responders did "everything possible" to save his life.
Bradshaw noted the skiing accident happened in a remote area during a snowstorm, making it difficult to get Morse to the nearest hospital in Farmington, at least an hour's drive from the ski resort in Carrabassett Valley.
The nearest trauma center, Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, is at least a two-hour drive away, and the snowstorm prevented LifeFlight helicopters from responding, the report states.
The investigation consisted of a series of witness interviews and reviews of official reports by the various emergency response agencies involved, Bradshaw said.
Investigators made no findings about Dana Morse getting dropped off, which is a situation that did not violate state protocols, Bradshaw said.
"It's awful that this happened, but there is nothing that speaks to that in Maine EMS protocols," he said of the scenario.
Because the ambulance crew was treating the patient in the back, a ski patrol member was driving the ambulance and let Dana Morse get out alongside the road, the report states.
Bradshaw said it's impossible to know the details about the discussion between Morse and the ski patrol member, which led to her getting dropped off less than a mile into the trip.
"There was a lot of confusion. We don't know for certain what type of discussion took place," Bradshaw said.
Copyright 2012 ProQuest Information and Learning
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2012 Kennebec Journal