FARMINGTON — The transition into retirement comes with mixed emotions for Stephan Bunker. He retired Oct. 31 after serving 25 years with the Maine Department of Public Safety.

He kept his retirement quiet, forgoing any big parties for a more solemn transition, he said Tuesday.

Retirement has been on his mind the last few years but because he’s been committed to projects or programs, it’s been hard to pick a time to step away, he said.

“It’s gone so quickly and I’ve so enjoyed working with a great group of people,” he said of the many 911 dispatchers who trained and received certification through courses at the Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro.

As manager of training for police and fire dispatchers, he’s communicated with police, fire and ambulance officials around the state, developing some great relationships with many of them.

“They are at the very front end of emergency calls. What they do makes a great difference in the response to an emergency,” he said.

Bunker said he was proud of his work to enhance dispatchers’ training in Maine.

In 2007, he was able to convince the state Legislature to implement a new emergency medical dispatch advanced course.

“Maine is one of only four states with that standard of training and the only state that fully funds that training,” he said.

Many assume a 911 dispatcher is ready to provide medical instruction in an emergency prior to the arrival of emergency personnel. That’s not necessarily true in many states, he said.

“A medical emergency begins right with the call, starting with the dispatcher,” he said. “In Maine, help begins right away with coached callers ready to instruct on medical procedures such as CPR, clearing airways or births.”

Experienced on both sides of the radio, Bunker has served as a dispatcher, dispatch instructor, police officer and an EMT for a local ambulance service. He remains a firefighter for Farmington Fire and Rescue.

He is chairman of the Board of Selectmen and was recently elected vice president of Maine Municipal Association, a position that will keep him involved with the Legislature as it works on policy that affects state and local relationships.

“My heart is back at the local level,” he said of fiscal actions taken “that trickle down to the local community and property taxpayers.”

His future already looks busy. He plans to teach advance skills for police and fire dispatchers through employment with a major public safety training group that offers courses around the country and here in Maine. The position will allow him and his wife, Cheryl, to mix business with pleasure as they travel and visit parts of the country, he said.

He will continue teaching at the community college level in both Bangor and South Portland.

Bunker also recently retired from the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves. Although he served in the Army after high school, he became involved with the Coast Guard Reserves during college, joining in 1974.

During his time with the Maine Department of Public Safety, he served as the first director of the state’s E-911 bureau and oversaw the state police uniform crime report system.

When the police chiefs association wanted to erect a law enforcement memorial in Augusta, Bunker, an original committee member, became the in-house historian. His research identified the 83 Maine officers killed in the line of duty, the stories surrounding their deaths and the lessons learned, he said. The earliest death was before the 1800s.

“It was a sad occasion but an enriching experience,” he said. One that left him with files of material worthy of the novel he vowed he’d write when he retired.

It’s still a project on his list.

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