Thorne Bay, Alaska is a tiny town on Prince of Wales Island. The volunteer EMS squad has dwindled to a small handful of trained responders. The average age of my friends is 70 and several of my family members have potentially life-threatening illnesses. Six months ago I felt the urge to receive EMS training.
ETT is the first responder training and first 40 hours of the 120 hour requirement for EMS certification. ETT credentials allows me to treat my family and friends as well as respond to emergencies in my community by ambulance. Here’s my dilemma: I have MS with fatigue and memory issues. Throughout my training I was very open about my MS challenges. There are days that I am just fine and others when I am marginal and still others in which I don’t function. My fear is that I could forget something or miss a critical sign. Who wouldn’t fear that in my shoes?
It turns out that 90% of the work done for EMS is not related to calls. Lots of preparation goes into keeping the ambulance ready and monitoring the 911 radio. When a call goes out, everyone who can respond, does. If there are not at least two responders, the EMS in a town 45 minutes away comes out instead. This means that I will never be alone. Other people with disabilities have served on the EMS as first responders and simply turned down calls they were not able to make. I want to give back to my community as I have time on my hands.
To get a feel for where I live, Google images, “Thorne Bay, Alaska”. Image from: www.panoramio.com .