Three University of Maine at Farmington students were recognized Thursday by Farmington police Chief Kenneth Charles for their lifesaving efforts when they found a 77-year-old Farmington woman on the ground in a parking lot. The woman was bleeding from the head and they quickly realized she was not OK. From left, are the woman’s daughter, Elizabeth Pratt of Chesterville, student athletes Andrew LaFlamme, Jimmy Reel, both of Nashua, New Hampshire, and Luke Bliss of Underhill, Vermont, and Farmington Chief Kenneth Charles. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

FARMINGTON — Three University of Maine at Farmington athletes on a run Nov. 28 decided to take an extra training lap — and it proved to be a lifesaving decision for a 77-year-old woman who had been missing for several hours.

Freshman Andrew LaFlamme, junior Jimmy Reel and senior Luke Bliss were presented with a lifesaving award Thursday by Farmington police Chief Kenneth Charles in “recognition of their situational awareness and prompt actions” last month when they rescued a woman who had a medical event and was in trouble.

LaFlamme and Reel, both of Nashua, New Hampshire, and Bliss of Underhill, Vermont, said they had run 7 miles and decided to take an extra lap on a path behind a back parking lot at the UMF Fitness and Recreation Center. The men are on the university’s cross-country team and long distance track team.

On the eighth lap, Bliss saw what turned out to be a woman on the ground in the parking lot. The men went over to her and Bliss asked her if she was OK. The woman had fallen and had blood on her head. He quickly realized she was not OK. Bliss and LaFlamme stayed behind to take care of the woman while Reel ran off to find a phone to get her help.

The temperature had been dropping and it was dark out, Reel said. They started her car and got her into it. Reel found someone who let him borrow a phone and called 911. He ran back to the woman and his fellow athletes and dispatchers gave them instructions, Reel said Friday.

Before the presentation Thursday at Dearborn Gym, Robert Hollis, head coach of the cross country team, said it was lucky they found the woman, especially as it was getting colder.


“It was pretty awesome,” he sad.

The woman’s daughter, Elizabeth Pratt of Chesterville, said her mother went to the gym every day except on Sundays and parks out front. On this day her mother parked somewhere she didn’t normally park.

“On Nov. 28, 2023, at approximately 12:38 pm, Farmington Police Department received the report of a missing 77-year-old woman,” Charles read from the award. “Family members indicated she had left home earlier in the morning and had not returned. Further concern was raised as the woman had missed an appointment. The circumstances and atypical behaviors raised concern for her wellbeing.”

Farmington police officers initiated a local search of common destinations while sharing her description and vehicle information with regional police agencies to be on the “look out.”

Attempts to locate her via cell phone data were unsuccessful as her phone was left at home, Charles said.

“As time went on and the search was unsuccessful, increased concern for her health and safety escalated. With a high daytime temperature of 37 degrees and sunset dropping to temperatures near 14 degrees, Officers initiated a ‘Silver Alert’ for widespread distribution. At approximately 4:30 p.m., Franklin County Regional Communications (Center) received a 911 call that proved crucial,” Charles said.


“Demonstrating great attention to their surroundings, this team observed the 77-year-old woman on the ground, outside her car and having suffered a minor head injury, unable to get up.”

Charles described Reel as being calm and cooperative to first aid instructions while relaying instructions to his partners. NorthStar EMS ambulance personnel and police arrived and took the woman to the hospital.

“The woman suffered an apparent medical event rendering her unable to recover. Her core temperature had dropped as low as 88 degrees. Had she not been found, medical care provided and with dropping temperatures, your efforts certainly saved her life,” Charles told the athletes.

“Your actions and care for others support our mission ‘to create a feeling of safety for the people within the town of Farmington,'” he said.

Charles gave the men a framed reading of the award and a department Challenge Coin for their efforts. UMF police Sgt. Marc Bowering presented them with a UMF campus police patch.

“We are proud of you,” Bowering said.


At the ceremony, Bliss, Reel and LaFlamme asked Pratt how her mother was.

“She is doing OK,” Pratt said. Her mother stayed for a couple of days in the hospital to recover, she said, but her mother doesn’t remember what happened.

“Me and my family are very grateful for these students,” Pratt said. Her mother most likely was there from about 8:30 a.m.

“Thank God for them,” she said. “It all turned out OK.”


NOTE: The story has been modified since it was first published to reflect that Robert Hollis is the head coach of  UMF Cross Country Team. It was a reporting error.

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