Franklin Memorial Hospital mum as state EMS ramps up investigation into ambulance service

FARMINGTON — A spokeswoman for Franklin Memorial Hospital declined comment Friday after Maine Emergency Services confirmed it had launched a formal investigation into allegations made by the widow of David Morse, who died earlier this month following a skiing accident at Sugarloaf Mountain.

Dana Morse of Nova Scotia voiced her complaints to a Canadian newspaper about treatment provided by a NorthStar ambulance crew after her husband caught an edge of his ski and veered off the trail and into a stand of trees.

Morse died in an ambulance, shortly after it left the ski resort's first-aid clinic.

Morse told a reporter she had grave concerns about the care paramedics gave her husband and said she planned to file a complaint with Franklin Memorial Hospital, which owns NorthStar Ambulance Service.

"No comment will be made until the state's formal review is complete," hospital spokeswoman Jill Gray said Friday.

The hospital's internal review, which began after the hospital learned of Morse's complaints, is "still ongoing," Gray said.

Maine EMS began a review and changed it to a formal investigation this week, Director Jay Bradshaw said Friday.

Under state statutes, an investigation becomes a formal process that provides EMS the ability to subpoena information that may help the case, he said.

Interviews of those involved is one of the ways investigators seek information, along with documentation. The time needed for the investigation varies and each case is different, Bradshaw said.

"We'll seek information where we can find it," he said. "Our goal is a complete understanding (of what transpired)."

Once the information is collected, a lawyer from the Office of the Maine Attorney General will go over the information with Maine EMS, Bradshaw said. 

From there, it goes to the Board of EMS, a regulatory board consisting of 17 members appointed by the governor.

A full range of actions can be taken, depending on the findings of the case, including dismissal of the medical workers involved, a letter of guidance or license modification, suspension or revocation, Bradshaw said.

The board can also levy a fine, and under the statute, request jail time. In some cases, there is an emergency revocation of the license, but that's rare, he said.

Typically, actions fall somewhere in the middle, he said.

The paramedics can continue their work with NorthStar during the investigation.

New details

A review of an emergency communications log provided to the Sun Journal by the Carrabassett Valley Communications Center provided a few new details in the case.

The log shows the ambulance crew arrived at the resort at 4:24 p.m., about 10 minutes after it was called and spent about 30 minutes with Morse. The log also shows that the initial call for an ambulance reported Morse may have sustained a broken leg and was possibly bleeding internally.

The log says that at about 4:53 p.m., the ambulance crew requested assistance from the Carrabassett Valley Fire Department's first responders and about 20 minutes later, requested a police officer's assistance at a gas station and garage on Route 27 near the entrance to the access road to Sugarloaf.

The log does not indicate whether the ambulance crew notified Franklin Memorial Hospital they were en route with a trauma patient.

Morse's widow, Dana Morse, has said the ambulance crew made her get out of the ambulance and left her on the side of the resort's access road. She flagged down a passer-by and returned to the resort to get her vehicle to go to the hospital. When she arrived, the staff in FMH's emergency department were unaware of her husband's accident or his fate.

Regional Editor Scott Thistle contributed to this report.

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Sharon Dudley's picture

So sorry for the Morse's

So sorry for the Morse's loss. Losing someone is very traumatic.

Mrs. Morse says that they let her off at the end of the access road. Is this not the same place that the EMS crew requested a police officer? It does make you wonder why they needed a police officer.

David Rackliffe's picture

They have not commented

They have not commented because the situation is still under investigation. That is common practice.
This is a very sad situation and my sympathy is with Morse and her children.

 's picture

They've had plenty of time

FMH has certainly had enough time to check out the facts relating to Dana Morse's complaints: that they still have nothing to say effectively tells us that Ms. Morse is right. It's pathetic that our local hospital here in Franklin County can't do better than this.


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