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With no paramedics available, Maine physician steps in to transport critical patient 1.5 hours

Dr. Mark McAllister called a local ambulance service and said, “Get me an ambulance with somebody who can drive it”


By Kerri Hatt

ROCKPORT, Maine — A Rockport physician took an unorthodox approach when there were no paramedics available to treat and transport a critical patient.

Pen Bay Medical Center’s Dr. Mark McAllister suspected his 80-year-old patient’s aorta was threatening to burst. An air medical transport was ruled out due to weather conditions. A medical team was available in Portland, 1.5 hours away, but there were no ambulance crews available, WABI reported.

Dr. McAllister told WABI he called a local ambulance service and said, “Get me an ambulance with somebody who can drive it, someone who knows where things are in the cabinet, and I will go as the paramedic in this case to take care of the patient on the way.”

The Medical Center called in a registered nurse who had ambulance experience to help.

The patient survived after making it to Portland and undergoing surgery.

“Someone who needs emergency aortic surgery, I can’t get them to Maine Medical Center. Recently we’ve had several people having heart attacks that needed to get to a tertiary care center for an emergency procedure and no transport to get them there,” Dr. McAllister told WABI. “And I think one of the most frustrating parts of working in healthcare isn’t working stressed, it’s not working tired, it’s not going above and beyond. It’s knowing what somebody needs and something about the system preventing you from being able to get it for them.”

Dr. McAllister emphasized the lack of adequate pay and reimbursement for EMS, and how proud he was of everyone who had a hand in saving that patient.