TURNER – A Wilton paramedic was killed Thursday morning when the ambulance he was riding in collided with a pickup truck at Route 4 and Potato Road.
Three others were hospitalized with injuries suffered in the 3 a.m. wreck.
Police said Allan Parsons, 46, was tending a patient in the back of the Med-Care ambulance on its way from Rumford to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, when the vehicles collided.
Parsons, father of two sons and a daughter, died at the scene, according to the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff Guy Desjardins said the ambulance – emergency lights reportedly flashing – collided with a black pickup crossing Route 4 from Potato Road to Lone Pine Road about 3 a.m. Early reports were that the driver of the pickup truck pulled out in front of the ambulance, though the crash remained under investigation Thursday night.
The driver of the ambulance, 68-year-old Arlene Greenleaf of Bethel, was driving south when the accident occurred. She had to be extricated from the ambulance by fire crews. Greenleaf was admitted to CMMC where she underwent surgery. She was listed in fair condition later Thursday.
“Arlene is a heck of a lady,” said Mary McDonald, who has worked in the health care profession in the Rumford area for three decades. “That whole crew at Med-Care, they’re just awesome.”
The driver of the truck, identified as Christopher Boutin, 29, of Turner, was thrown from his pickup and suffered serious injuries, police said. At the request of his family, hospital officials were not releasing any information about his condition.
Police said Pauline Holman of Dixfield was in the back of the ambulance and being taken from Rumford Hospital to CMMC when it crashed. Holman had suffered broken bones and other injuries in an ATV crash on Wednesday night, officials said.
When the ambulance collided with the pickup, Holman slid off a gurney but remained strapped to a back board in the wreck. She was listed in critical condition at CMMC on Thursday night.
In the moments after the crash, several medics who Parsons had worked with over the past decade were sent to the scene. They included crews from United Ambulance in Lewiston where Parsons worked for two years.
“We’re devastated. We were all very close to him,” said a United paramedic who only gave his name as David. “You hate to have to go out after one of your own. It’s a very sad day.”
Parsons had been in the emergency medical field for 10 years and had been a full paramedic for six, friends said. He worked at ambulance services out of Monmouth and Lewiston before going to work for Med-Care.
“Mr. Parsons was one of the best paramedics I’ve ever worked with,” McDonald said. “He was very professional but he was always in a great mood. He always had a smile on his face.”
Those who worked with Parsons described him as a man completely dedicated to the care of the people he served. In medic circles, he earned the nickname “Cooter” because of his affable character.
“He was a happy-go-lucky guy,” said Eric Michaud of United Ambulance. “He always had a smile on his face.”
Parsons was devoted to emergency medical service, Michaud said, “but the most memorable thing about Allan was his dedication to his kids. They were his top priority.”
A paramedic in North Monmouth credited Parsons with helping to train and inspire many newcomers who entered the field of emergency medicine.
“He always cared about others more than he cared for himself,” said the paramedic, who did not want to provide his name. “He dedicated his life to making sure people were safe. He had a lot of integrity. He was the most dedicated individual I’ve ever met.”
It was not clear whether Parsons was secure in the back of the ambulance when it crashed. Other paramedics said it is uncommon for a rescue worker to strap him or herself in when there is a patient who requires care. The strap makes it impossible for a paramedic to tend to a patient, they said.
The speed of the ambulance was not immediately known, but those who have been in the business say they are generally not driven above the speed limit, even when lights and sirens are on.
Police said several people stopped to help at the crash site as emergency crews from Auburn and Turner were on the way. It was unclear if those people had witnessed the crash or came upon it later.
Sheriff’s detectives and Maine State Police shut down a section of the highway Thursday morning as they began a reconstruction of the crash in hopes of determining the cause.
As of Thursday night, no charges had been filed.
“It’s so new at this point, we’re not sure what’s going to happen,” Sheriff Desjardins said.
Blood-alcohol tests were administered to each of the drivers but the tests were not complete.
“That’s policy and procedure in any fatality,” Desjardins stressed.
At Med-Care, Director Dean Milligan said emergency service providers from other companies came forward throughout the day with offers to help. Milligan said Med-Care remains fully staffed, but he understood the desire by other paramedics to lend a hand.
“Emergency medical service providers are a close-knit community, and continuing to help others is the best medicine for them right now,” Milligan said in a written statement. “Med-Care employees are going through a tough time coping with the loss of a close friend and colleague, as well as the serious injury to another.”
Meanwhile, at United Ambulance in Lewiston, medics gathered outside the building between calls, sharing stories about their fallen comrade. A decade ago, Parsons was working as a carpet installer when he decided to volunteer with the ambulance service. According to the crew at United, it quickly became apparent that emergency service was a passion for the man they called Cooter.
“You don’t sleep right, you don’t eat right and the money isn’t that great,” David said. “You do it because it’s a calling.”