NORTH HAVEN — For 27-year-old April Brown, the key to making a life on North Haven is finding ways to use her brain.
After graduating from University of Maine Farmington in 2008 with a degree in rehabilitation services and a minor in psychology, Brown moved back to North Haven.
“I thought that I would take a year and get my feet underneath me, but that was also when the economic crisis happened so job opportunities were fairly limited,” she said. Brown had a good job with her father, Randy Brown, with his handyman and lobstering businesses and decided to stay on-island for longer than planned.
In December 2009, Brown heard about a Wilderness First Responder course being offered on North Haven.
“I had been looking for something with more brain work, brain energy,” she said, and signed up. “I loved it immediately,” she said.
After completing the ten-day course, Brown signed up for the Wilderness EMT course offered at SOLO Wilderness School in New Hampshire, a two-week intensive program. She took the National Registry exam after completing the course and “dove head-first” into emergency medicine on North Haven.
“It was a great way of giving back to my community who had given so much to me and I felt really good about it,” she said. “And it’s an interesting thing to be able to help your friends and family in times of need.”
Brown estimated that she responded to 90 percent of island emergency medical calls since her certification, whether or not she was on-call.
Following the departure of EMS Crew Chief John Dietter in 2011, Brown seized the opportunity for more challenges.
“The job description is to ensure EMS coverage and I was pretty much on-call all the time anyway. We just put it to the crew and no one else wanted to do it, so I got unanimously voted in,” she said. “It’s a lot of responsibility—also a good way to use my brain.”
Brown said her goal as crew chief is to recruit more emergency medical personnel. Once more EMTs are available to take calls, she hopes to become an advanced EMT and possibly a paramedic.
“The state is starting to do this really cool community para-medicine thing which puts paramedics into the community. Or I could just be in a cool city with crazy stuff happening all the time—that would be ideal for me,” she said.
In addition to emergency medicine, Brown exercises her brain as editor of the monthly print publication North Haven News, a position she’s held for three years. She edits content and is responsible for the paper’s layout each month.
“Having not been formally taught by anyone how to use Adobe InDesign, I always inevitably have to do some weird problem solving to figure anything out, which is why I still do it because it makes my brain work,” she said.
Brown’s large, close-knit family also makes island life fun and sustainable.
“Being from the island, it’s easier to live out here full time because you have a ton of family,” she said. Brown’s father, her older and younger sisters and two nephews live on-island, as do many extended family members. Brown said many of her friends have returned to the island after graduating from college or taking time away.
One project keeping Brown busy has been the renovation of an 18-foot Eastporter.
“That boat was a big project last winter. This boat was either going to me or the dump,” she said. Brown stripped the boat, put in a new deck, middle console and fore peak, covered everything in Fiberglas and then painted it.
She and her four-year-old nephew Warren haul five traps by hand from the boat, which Warren christened Bluebird.
“He called all the shots,” Brown said. “I drew the line when he wanted to paint the inside pink.”
Getting bored with island doesn’t seem to be in the cards, a fact lost on some.
“People are like, ‘Oh my word, what would you possibly be able to do on an island?’ It’s kind of really actually pretty great. There’s always something to do. I’m more tired now than ever.”