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Maine Medics Cleared in Ski Death Probe

FARMINGTON, Maine -- The state office that oversees emergency medical services has dismissed some of the complaints in the investigation about the medical treatment of a man who died after a skiing accident on Sugarloaf in January.

Maine Emergency Medical Services, a division of the state Department of Public Safety, dismissed the case against two of the NorthStar service providers who responded to the accident, according to Jay Bradshaw, director of the state office.

"These providers were listed on the EMS run report, but arrived on scene at the end of the call and did not participate in patient care," Bradshaw said in an email.

The state office is looking into an allegation by the wife of skier David Morse that the NorthStar ambulance crew that treated him after his skiing accident on the mountain did not care for him properly.

Bradshaw said privacy laws prevented him from commenting about whether other NorthStar employees are under investigation.

Bradshaw would not discuss details of the investigation, which he said Monday will continue into next month. He expects to release further investigation findings after the probe is completed, he said in a phone interview.

Morse, 41, of Harmony, Nova Scotia, died en route to Franklin Memorial Hospital shortly after 5 p.m. on Jan. 12, Carrabassett Valley police said. Members of Sugarloaf Ski Patrol initially responded to the skiing accident at 3:43 p.m.

Franklin Community Health Network owns the hospital and the ambulance service. Health network officials have said they are also conducting a review of the incident. They would not comment Monday on Bradshaw's statements, saying they are waiting for the state office's investigation to be finished before responding.

The skier's wife, Dana Morse, told The Chronicle Herald in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that the ambulance crew didn't provide proper medical care to her husband. She is a nurse practitioner, according to newspaper. She also told the newspaper that the ambulance crew left her by the side of the road about three-tenths of a mile into the journey to the hospital.

Dana Morse on Monday would not comment on Bradshaw's statement or other aspects of her husband's death, saying the state office is keeping her updated.

"I'm waiting for the investigation to take its course," she said.

Bradshaw said the Maine attorney general's office is assisting with the investigation and that it is not a criminal one. The attorney general's office did not immediately return a request for comment Monday afternoon.

After conducting numerous interviews and reviewing records, the decision was made to dismiss the complaint against Rebecca Morin and Judith Wills, two of the NorthStar providers who responded to the accident, Bradshaw said.

On Monday, Jill Gray, community relations manager for Franklin Memorial Hospital, said that the two women remain employees of the ambulance service. Gray would not discuss what role the women played in the emergency response on Jan. 12.

Morin referred questions to the hospital officials. Wills could not be reached.

When members of Sugarloaf Ski Patrol responded to the accident scene at 3:43 p.m. amid falling snow, they found David Morse conscious and alert, wearing goggles and a helmet, police said.

It took the ski patrol 12 minutes to get Morse from the slope to the Sugarloaf First Aid Clinic near the base lodge, where paramedics from NorthStar Ambulance took over his care, police said.

The state emergency medical services agency launched an investigation after receiving a complaint from Dana Morse, according to Bradshaw. The agency initially began a review, which is less formal and uses different methods than an official investigation, after her allegations were published in the media, Bradshaw said in previous interviews.

If it is determined that a complaint is found to be without substance, it will be dismissed. If there is merit to the complaint, the information would be presented to the Board of Emergency Medical Services, Bradshaw said.

According to state law, the board has the authority to modify, revoke or suspend an entity's license, as well as pursue fines and jail time, he said.



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