Deputy Bath Fire and Rescue Chief Christopher Cummings (right) presented Robert (Shawn) Chandler (left) with a letter from the Maine Medical Center Division of Emergency Medical Services last week. The letter recognizes Chander’s work in helping a BIW employee who was injured on the job in January. Photo courtesy of Bath Fire and Rescue

Three Bath paramedics have been recognized for helping a Bath Iron Works employee who was severely injured on the job.

Bath Advanced Emergency Medical Technician Shawn Latulippe said Jan. 23 began like any other day, until a call came in from Bath Iron Works. Garrett Bailey, a rigger, was hit in the face with a hook attached to the end of a crane, according to the Associated Press.

The Maine Medical Center Division of EMS recognized Latulippe, Paramedic Benjamin Huebler and Paramedic Robert (Shawn) Chandler for their “exceptional care and professionalism” when they treated Bailey in the aftermath of the accident.

Bailey, 31, said the impact “broke every bone in my face but left my skull intact and I have a small bruise on my brain.”

“Right off the bat — he needed a trauma center,” said Chandler. “We had a major airway issue with him, and it would’ve taken 20 minutes for LifeFlight to arrive, so we chose to make the trip ourselves.”

LifeFlight is a medical helicopter used to transport patients with severe injuries or illness.

First, the medical team needed to move Bailey out of the shipyard and into the ambulance.

Chandler said six people carried Bailey on a backboard, a piece of medical equipment used to keep a patient still while in transport, out of the shipyard and into the ambulance. He estimated four of the people who helped carry Bailey were BIW workers with no prior medical training.

“BIW workers tend to do that,” said Chandler. “They stay out of the way if you don’t need them, but if you ask them for something, they follow direction very well. They care about each other.”

Advanced EMT Shawn Latulippe (right) was also recognized by Maine Medical Center Division of EMS for helping the injured rigger. Photo courtesy of Bath Fire and Rescue

“We let them know we needed a clear exit out of the building and they got to work moving everything that could move and probably a few things that shouldn’t move,” said Latulippe. “From there, it was a straight shot to Portland.”

From the time the alarm sounded in the Bath fire and rescue house to the ambulance arriving at Maine  Medical Center in Portland, 47 minutes elapsed, according to Chandler. The ride was spent monitoring Bailey’s vital signs and maintaining his airway.

Although Bailey’s injuries were extensive, Chandler, Huebler and Latulippe said they weren’t panicked.

“We all have a lot of compassion, but we have to learn how to shut that off, slow your heart rate, take action and do what you’re trained to do,” said Chandler.

“Our job is to be the optimists,” said Latulippe. “I don’t think there was ever a time that day when we thought ‘This isn’t going to go well.’ We treat what we see and adjust as the situation changes.”

Chandler said Bailey’s case stands out in his memory not because the injuries were more extreme than the department’s average call, but because “it went extremely well,” in part because of the care BIW’s medics initiated before Bath paramedics arrived.

“If BIW’s crew didn’t do what they did, there wouldn’t have been a patient for me to treat,” said Chandler. “They had some young EMTs that did a few spur of the moment things that showed they have some good instincts.”

The Bath Fire and Rescue Department declined to discuss what care they provided to Bailey, citing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

BIW spokesperson David Hench called the response from the Bath paramedics, BIW medics and Bailey’s coworkers “tremendous.”

“The on-scene care provided by the employee’s coworkers, swift skilled treatment by the BIW rescue team – which was on scene within two minutes of the accident – and the seamless handoff to the extremely capable care of Bath’s emergency medical personnel were instrumental in avoiding a more serious outcome,” Hench wrote in a statement Monday. “The professionalism displayed by all those involved in our employee’s care is a testament to the commitment, training and proficiency of the medical personnel that the rest of us count on in an emergency.”

Bailey remained in critical condition at Maine Medical Center for nearly a week, according to reports from hospital spokesperson Caroline Cornish.

“They put me in a medically-induced coma,” Bailey said. “When I woke up, I remember them telling me I was involved in an accident at work at BIW. I was walking out (of the hospital) 13 days later. I look like me again minus a few scars here and there and I’m missing an eye.”

Paramedic Benjamin Huebler (left) was also recognized for his work helping an injured BIW worker on Jan. 23. Photo courtesy of Bath Fire and Rescue

Bailey said he’s feeling stronger each day, but he’s not fully recovered. His jaw is still wired shut to allow it to heal and he has some dental work in his future to repair his broken teeth.

“As tragic and unfortunate as it was, this went about as well as it could’ve,” said Latulippe. “(Bailey) is a fighter and it’s great that he’s home. The fact that he’s walking and talking is a big deal.”

While Bailey said he doesn’t remember anything about the day he was injured, he said he’s thankful for the people who sprang into action to help him and the doctors who repaired his injuries.

“From the mechanics to the first responders who got me to the hospital, I want to express my gratitude, but I can’t because I’m speechless,” said Bailey. “It could’ve gone so much worse if it wasn’t for all of them.”

Latulippe, Chandler and Huebler shrugged off the praise and insisted they treated Bailey’s case the same way they treat any other call, from a broken arm to a stroke.

“When we show up to work, we respond to any emergencies that come in,” said Huebler.

“We were just doing our job, and anyone else from Bath Fire and Rescue would’ve done the same thing,” said Chandler.

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