More than a dozen fishermen rushed to help rescue the crew of Georgia Maria in Bar Harbor last week. Most don’t have any official role as first responders, but they were willing to respond first. In other emergencies, lobstermen often have helped the Bar Harbor Police and Fire departments respond to fires and injuries on the water.
As the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks arrived this year, the country was reeling from devastation brought by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. But first responders don’t get time off for being tired or because the news can make one jittery. They go to work: Coast Guard crews and electric company linemen to help in Florida, policemen to calm an autistic individual on the street, firefighters to the middle-of-the-night alarm and paramedics to the mountain trail.
Mount Desert Island and the surrounding islands are home to a whole host of different “first response” organizations, including three ambulance services, six fire departments, town police departments, the county sheriff’s office, Acadia National Park law enforcement and MDI Search and Rescue.
Major incidents here always involve several of these organizations working together in mutual aid. Both the quality of their work and the quality of their cooperation earn high praise from outside observers.
“We have a unique view from above,” a representative of the helicopter ambulance service LifeFlight of Maine told first responders here last week, “and it’s sort of like a ballet. Look at what you’ve been able to put together as a result of all these services figuring out how to coordinate. You should all be very, very proud.”
Full-time and volunteer personnel train and work together year-round. MDI towns will continue worthwhile conversations about how best to structure police, fire and EMS services here. But whatever the name on the sleeve, the first responders themselves are unfailingly practical and supportive, not jealous or territorial. They set a fine example for our young people and everyone in our towns.