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LETTER: Thoughts from a SAVES member

To the editor,

I have lived in Skaneateles since 1979. We all know the great benefits we receive from living in this unique community. I am writing this to inform you about an opportunity that exists for us to give back and at the same time receive personal fulfillment. I’m speaking of SAVES Ambulance.

I decided to volunteer as a driver at SAVES the first summer I retired after a long career as a school teacher. I stopped in to talk to the director, Jeff VanBeveren, not knowing if an older woman would be welcomed. I was warmly greeted and encouraged to submit an application. I spent two days a week, training with Jerry Schinaman, the lead driving instructor. He was patient and thorough. He answered my numerous questions and finished my handling of the rig by having me drive backwards through St. Mary’s Cemetery, from one gate to another. It seems there is a great deal of backing up involved in driving an ambulance.

After much coaxing from staff and members I signed up to take the four-month EMT course, during my second summer at SAVES. My co-workers had confidence in me and gave me support throughout the course and the final state exam, and I am now in my third year as a New York State certified EMT.

A shift at SAVES is generally 12 hours. The drivers, most of whom are volunteers, either are current EMTs or were certified in the past. Ninety percent of the time the drivers work alone with a paramedic. Paramedics are highly trained in Emergency Medical Services, and all are career employees. The two-member crew handles any and all types of calls that come in from 911 during their shift.

I have assisted on general illness, auto accidents, heart attacks, strokes, seizures, difficulty breathing, major bleeding, overdoses, personal injuries and fire calls. In every case our paramedics do analyze the situation and go to work immediately to give the patient some relief and prepare them for transport. Our members continually attend training so they can keep updated on procedures, technology and other ways to improve.

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