Volunteerism: A Way of Life

Dennis Bouchard's daughter with Dr. John Joseph IMG_1978

Fort Kent ~ Being from the far reaches of northern Maine, in the St. John Valley, many are not likely familiar with the Bay of Fundy Marathon held annually in another part of the state, specifically, Lubec, Maine. Thanks to Dr. John Joseph, a full time Emergency Department physician at Northern Maine Medical Center (NMMC), the event is getting broader recognition. Dr. Joseph has been serving the event as volunteer Medical Officer since the inception of the race five years ago.

According to the race organizing committee, the event is a unique race, taking participants across the international border to Canada. The race is a fully certified, chip timed, Boston marathon qualifying, not-for-profit event organized jointly by the friendly welcoming communities of Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada and Lubec, Maine, USA, on the shores of the magnificent Bay of Fundy.

The primary focus for the event is to bring people into the area to experience the unique and picturesque international communities in the Downeast Region. Any funds that are raised from the event are donated to a local charity each year. This year, Race Director, Dr. Hough, reported that $3,000 was raised and contributed to the Lubec Food Bank.

According to Dr. John Hough, this year’s event drew over five hundred participants to the area. The event offered multiple levels of participation such as: a 52K ultra marathon, new to the event this year; a full marathon, half marathon, 5K and 10K. Led by Drs. Hough and Joseph, the event is staffed with local medical providers along with volunteer medical students and Physician Assistant students from the University of New England. The role of students is not only to provide race support but they are also expected to do a brief presentation on a marathon related topic prior to the race. Among this year’s topics were: a review of Advanced Cardiac Life Support, exercise induced hyponatremia, incidence and treatment of hypothermia, sudden cardiac arrest during marathons and the incidence of plantar fasciitis.

The marathon utilizes resources, in the form of protocols, made available by the International Institute for Race Medicine (IIRM). According to the Executive Director for IIRM and Medical Coordinator for the Boston Marathon, IIRM’s mission is to promote the health and safety of athletes participating in endurance events through education, research, and the development of medical best practices for races and events of all sizes. The event also depends on other contributors to make the event possible. Dr. Hough said, “We really appreciate NMMC’s sponsorship and the work of the entire volunteer team.” He said that the success of an event such as this one depends on the generosity of volunteers. NMMC donated intravenous fluids and other medical supplies needed to manage race related injuries.

Dr. Joseph is a 1983 graduate of the George Washington University Medical School. He completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, an institution affiliated with Tulane and the Louisiana State University medical schools. He has been a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Medicine since 1988, and he has been certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine since 1989. Dr. Joseph is a lead instructor for: Neonatal Resuscitation, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, and he is an instructor in Advanced Pediatric Life Support. For thirteen years, he has been an examiner for the American Board of Emergency Medicine where he serves twice a year in Chicago.

Volunteerism is a characteristic which Dr. Joseph says was instilled in him at an early age by his mother. Experiencing for himself the value and fulfillment that volunteerism brings, he has nurtured the same influence on his own children who often participate with him at various community events. Dr. Joseph is very engaged in promoting health and wellness across the state of Maine and has been a guest speaker in many communities on topics such as Citizen CPR which will be offered in Fort Kent for a second time on August 23rd. He also speaks widely across the country at medical professional events. Dr. Joseph holds professional memberships with: the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the George Washington University Medical Alumni Association, the Maine Chapter for the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, the Maine Medical Association and the International Institute for Race Medicine.

Dr. Joseph currently teaches at Maine Medical Center on a monthly basis. He is published in: the National Science Foundation, the Journal of Emergency Medicine and the Journal of Infectious Diseases. He will be presenting more classes for the local community on Citizen CPR later this summer and he will be a guest lecturer at the EMS EXPO in Madawaska on August 28th. The topic of his lecture at the EXPO will be the systematic approach to pediatric resuscitation. To register for Citizen CPR or to request other topics, contact NMMC’s Community Educator, Rebecca Michaud at 207-834-1934.

To learn more about NMMC’s many services, to make a donation or to learn about volunteer opportunities, visit www.nmmc.org and Like us on Facebook!