HANOVER — Five ambulance companies responded Friday to a four-vehicle accident involving two school buses and 27 students on Route 2.
Two children from one bus who complained of back pain, and a man from one of two cars involved who had a possible head injury, were taken by Med-Care Ambulance to Rumford Hospital, Med-Care Director Dean Milligan said early Friday evening.
One woman in one of the two cars who suffered facial trauma, declined transport, he said.
The identities of the injured and people involved were not available at press time.
The accident happened just after 3 p.m. A Telstar High School bus from SAD 44 was stopped in the east-bound lane with its flashing red lights on while it discharged students, investigating Oxford County Sgt. Timothy Holland said.
Behind it, also stopped were a Jeep sport-utility vehicle and a four-door passenger car. Holland said there were three people in one of the vehicles and one person in the other.
He said the driver of the second bus, which was carrying high school students from Carrabassett Valley Academy, failed to stop and slammed into one of the two passenger vehicles. The chain reaction rear-end collision shoved one car into the other and that car into the Telstar bus, crushing the two cars between the buses, Holland said.
Route 2 was closed to traffic as emergency responders tended to the injured and because all four vehicles remained on the road, Holland said.
An employee of Gordie Howe's general store, which was near the accident scene, said both cars "are sandwiched between those two buses."
The store employee said two people were moved into separate ambulances for treatment.
Milligan said there were 15 students on the Carrabassett Valley bus and 12 on the Telstar bus. Ambulance crews evaluated all 15 children on the Carrabassett Valley bus and there were no injuries.
"Each kid was given a medical assessment, and then was signed off with parental consent via phone," Milligan said.
All of the children on the Telstar bus were also evaluated.
"We set up a reunification plan that as parents arrived, we brought child and parent into an ambulance and evaluated them, and then had the parent sign them off as not requiring ambulance transportation and they left with their child," Milligan said.
"During those evaluations, two children from one family were transported to Rumford hospital for evaluation of back pain," he said.
"So, in total, we transported three patients and evaluated 27 kids, two vehicle drivers, and two bus drivers."
Milligan said that initially Med-Care brought four ambulances, Bethel Rescue responded with two ambulances, and Tri-Town Rescue, Andover Rescue and NorthStar Ambulance each sent one ambulance. The initial 911 call that emergency responders received was for a dump truck-school bus collision.
That assessment changed as police, who were in the area, quickly got on scene.
Milligan said Med-Care and Bethel personnel were used on scene, he had Tri-Town stage and canceled Andover and NorthStar ambulances once they better understood what was involved.
"This was all completed in a little over one hour's time, which is remarkable," Milligan said.
"The reunification process was set up in the (Hanover) Post Office parking lot and as parents arrived, they were kept out of the scene and we delivered their children to them in one of four ambulances waiting in the parking lot to perform the final assessments and sign-off process.
"All agencies involved did a great job of working collaboratively for the common cause," Milligan said.
"My hat goes off to all that responded and I am thankful we dodged a bullet with a lot of potential to have been a much worse situation."