SOUTHWEST HARBOR — It’s so new that it still has that new ambulance smell.
In August, the Southwest Harbor/Tremont Ambulance Service got a new vehicle to replace its five-year-old model. The biggest difference is that the old one ran on diesel, while the new one is gasoline-powered.
“It’s a very responsive ambulance,” said paramedic David Buccello. “It’s so fast and has so much power, and you don’t have to pause to start it.”
The ambulance service has two vehicles for responding to emergencies and transporting patients to area hospitals. One is based in Southwest Harbor and one in Bass Harbor.
The crew of about two dozen includes basic and advanced EMTs (emergency medical technicians), paramedics and drivers who have first aid and CPR certification. They respond to about 300 calls a year.
“We do some trauma [response], but it’s mostly medical calls, things like respiratory and heart issues and seizures,” said Crew Chief Dwayne Pinette.
The Southwest Harbor/Tremont Ambulance Service had its origins during World War II, when women in the two towns got together to roll bandages for the troops overseas. They soon realized that there were unmet needs at home, so they formed the Ladies Aid, which later became the Southwest Harbor/Tremont Nursing Association. That organization provided support for a public health nurse for the two towns and a lending program for home health care equipment.
In 1960, prominent Southwest Harbor businessman and band leader Les White Jr. led the effort to raise money for the nursing association’s first ambulance.
The organization was incorporated under its current name as a nonprofit charitable organization in 1969.