WEST PARIS – Wearing a green Tinkerbell blouse on Friday, Med-Care Ambulance emergency medical technician Arlene Greenleaf was finally able to sit up for short spells at Ledgeview Living Center on Route 26 in West Paris.
Greenleaf, 68, of Bethel was seriously injured in a horrific accident about 3 a.m. July 5 while driving the victim of an ATV accident to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.
The ambulance collided with a pickup truck at Route 4 and Potato Road in Turner, killing Wilton paramedic Allan Parsons, 46, who was tending the patient in the back of the ambulance.
Greenleaf was trapped and had to be extricated.
The driver of the truck, Christopher Boutin, 29, of Turner, was also seriously injured.
Greenleaf suffered broken and bruised ribs, a fractured upper left leg and a fractured knee, foot and ankle on her right leg.
Those injuries will keep her bedridden or in a wheelchair for a year or more.
“I can do everything but walk. Well, I can’t crawl either,” Greenleaf said from her bed in Room 202 with husband, John, by her side. “It’s put quite a crimp in our lives because I can’t put any weight for two to three months on my left leg and no weight for a year or more on my right leg after that. They may even have to fuse my right ankle to my foot.”
“She’s got injuries that a 20-year-old would have a tough time coming back from, and she’s in her late 60s,” Med-Care Ambulance Assistant Director Chris Moretto said Friday morning in Mexico.
Greenleaf couldn’t talk about the accident – parts of which she said she remembers – due to ongoing investigations, but she spoke at length about her therapy and recovery process.
“As long as I do my exercises, and strengthen my legs and arms – I have to be able to move myself – then I can go home, so (her husband) doesn’t have to lift me. Front and back, my ribs are very sore. I understand that’s from the air bag and seat belt,” she said.
Greenleaf spent six hours in surgery, where plastic was inserted into her legs as bone supports.
Levity, visits from friends and family, and several six-packs of her favorite bottled IBC root beer dropped off by Med-Care coworkers, are helping Greenleaf cope, despite worries that her injuries may end her 35-year career in the emergency medical services business.
She worked three years with the former Greenleaf Ambulance she started in Bethel, then 32 years with its successor, Bethel Rescue – she was director for 18 years – and 14 concurrent years with Med-Care of Mexico.
“The family has told her she’s retired,” said her husband, a retired electrician who has been by her side throughout the ordeal, except for attending Parsons’ funeral in Farmington.
“Well, if it takes as long as (her doctor) said it would take to heal, I probably am, but, I’m not ready yet to say that I am,” Arlene added.