Tales from the ambulance
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:57 PM
"Rena Clough helped deliver Casey Skelton during the ambulance ride to the hospital. I was in the back with mom, dad and baby-to-be, Clough said, Suddenly we were mom, dad and baby born. I call him 'Freeway Casey' because he was born on highway 5.Clough relates the story of her baby and other tales from 20 years of her work as an emergency medical technician for a young audience at Eagle Harbor Books, at 11 a.m. Aug.11. Clough works for Bainbridge Ambulance - a non-profit founded in 1946 - first as a volunteer and then as their only paid employee. She manages the office, interviewing, training and mentoring the 38 volunteers who comprise the staff.Clough's volunteers ride with the people being transported in the back of the ambulance. The volunteers are EMTs who get a small stipend per transport. Each has a 24-hour shift, during which they carry a small radio called a 'minitor,' through which they may be contacted. Clough says that the ambulance might typically carry two passengers in a day. Bainbridge leaves the serious medical problems that need advanced life support - such as heart attacks or internal bleeding - for the fire department's red-and-white rigs.We aren't the '911' calls, Clough said. We are the blue-and-white rigs supported by folks like Bainbridge Foundation. Bainbridge Ambulance EMTs evaluate the patient on the way to the hospital. They might immobilize a broken limb, start an IV to replace fluids or administer oxygen.The ambulance also receives calls from Bainbridge nursing homes for repeat routine visits to area hospitals. Clough gets to know some of the older island residents well.You do get attached to patients, Clough said. My most favorite transports are with the seniors, because you hear their history and the history of Bainbridge Island.Clough's presentation is the last in a three-part series that features the fire department, the police department and the EMTs.Eagle Harbor Books children's book buyer Alison Carpenter first invited the fire department, but soon found the police requesting equal time.So we thought, 'Why don't we round it out and have in the EMTs?' Carpenter said.Clough will read A Day With Paramedics by Jan Kottke.Then the children can troop to the parking lot behind the bookstore, where Clough's ambulance awaits their hands-on inspection. While Clough can recall ambulance rides that didn't end well for her passengers, those are balanced out, she says, by stories like the Skeltons'.When things go well, like when Casey was born, you just feel on Cloud 9, Clough said. It's just so joyous. "