Open The Airway. Stop The Bleeding. Com­fort The Frightened.

by David Severn, October 21, 2009

Some years ago I was working out Clow Ridge and as usual had taken a couple of my kids along. On leaving the job my eight-year-old daughter Dandelion wanted to ride her bike down the hill. Descending that steep grade just above the stop sign on Nash Mill Road she lost control and did a face plant on the hard packed gravel road. The blood was profuse. With the help of Burt and Kay Clark who lived nearby we got the bleeding stopped but Dandy seemed to get very lethargic and had a tendency to nod off. I was scared to death. We called the ambulance and I put Dandy in the pickup and headed toward Boonville trying to rouse her and keep her from going into a coma. I can’t remember where we met up with the ambulance but I do remember the feeling of relief. The crew reassured me that things didn’t look too serious and let me accompany Dandy on the ride to the Ukiah hospital. Much of my concern had been caused by the fact that Dandy had been unresponsive to my questions but in the ambulance and receiving oxygen by a face mask Dandy opened her eyes to look me in the face and then probably because she saw my deep concern raised her hand and poked me playfully on the nose with her finger. That is when I knew she was going to be all right. I still today swell with emotion at the memory.

Did the ambulance save her life? Probably not, but I can’t begin to say how much I appreciated it being there.

Ten years later when Dan graduated from high school she took the local EMT class, volunteered for a spell with the Anderson Valley Ambulance Service. Since then she went on to become a kickass para­medic in Fresno.

As for myself, six years ago when I learned Chris­tine Clark was pulling five to eight 12 hour shifts a week to keep the all volunteer ambulance rolling, I signed up. It has been a very rewarding experience.

But this article is not about volunteering, per se. Every two years the Anderson Valley Ambulance Service sponsors an Emergency Medical Technician training and one will be starting soon. While hope­fully the Ambulance Service will get an EMT or two out of the class, the purpose is to provide emergency medical training to a wider sector, and, in fact, needs broader community involvement to reach the number of students required by the Mendocino County Office of Education to make it happen.

The two-nights-a-week, three-month program pro­vides students with a comprehensive understanding of how to approach and deal with the whole spectrum of medical, trauma and even psychiatric emergencies. It teaches how to size up a situation, how to stay safe, how to assess and treat, and how to determine when you need additional help.

Of course having emergency medical knowledge would especially benefit anyone living in rural envi­rons as we do here in AV but the rewards could go beyond. As I mentioned, the Anderson Valley EMT class was the springboard that launched my daughter on a very rewarding career. Theresa Gowan, who has had a long interest in emergency medicine, took the EMT class two years ago and now not only volunteers on our ambulance but also works a paid job with the Ukiah Ambulance Service.

The starting date for the class is Monday, Novem­ber 30. So if you are interested get on the ball. You will need to register with MCOE but first give Martha Hyde a call at 895-3795 to find out the details. Just your participation in the class will help the whole Valley.

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