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By Guest Editorial Dave Lapof
Operations Manager, Klicitat County EMS District 1 

'Triage 1': EMS District 1 is neighbors helping neighbors


November 15, 2017

On a fateful day in 1926, tragedy struck a four-year-old girl, an accidental shotgun blast to the lower leg. The mother heard the shotgun go off and her children screaming and recognized the need to act quickly. She whisked her child into the house to control the bleeding, while sending her son on horseback to the closest neighbor, over two miles away. The neighbor mounted the boy’s horse and raced back toward the emergency, leaving the boy to walk home.

When the neighbor arrived, he helped break into a shed and used an auto to transport her down from the Panikanik area into White Salmon. For many hours the girl endured excruciating pain and blood loss. At that time, no hospital existed on the Washington side of the river in Klickitat County. There happened to be a surgeon in town who quickly determined there was no hope for the leg, and all effort now shifted toward saving the precious life of a four-year-old girl.

Such was life “back in the day.” Emergencies were typically handled by family, friends, and neighbors with whatever equipment, medicine, or lifesaving knowledge was available to them.

That was over 90 years ago, and we can say a lot has changed since then. We now have three 24-hour staffed ambulances, two hospitals, and a number of doctors available on call day and night in our county. But we are still neighbors helping neighbors.

We frequently are requested to offer public assistance to those who need help getting back up from a non-injury fall, transferring critical patients to Portland area hospitals for a higher level of care than can be provided in the Gorge, and all the other 911 calls for service every day. All told, we respond to over 1,800 calls for service, and this continues to increase each year. Neighbor helping neighbor.

Many of the EMTs and Paramedics working for Klickitat County EMS District 1 are longtime residents of the county. While some do not currently live here, for at least 48 hours each week they do, and they feel a part of the community they serve. It is this commitment to you, the citizens we serve, that inspired us to look to the future. One way to do is this, is to offer a number of community first aid and prevention programs. We will be sharing this information with you after the first of the year, as our way of giving back to the community we serve.

With the holidays approaching we want to remind you that KCEMS, along with nurses and medical care staff, law enforcement, 911 dispatchers, and firefighters are all going to be working during the holidays to serve you. We want you to enjoy your families company, so please take that extra moment if you find yourself enjoying a bit too much eggnog or you’re in a hurry and forget that there may be black ice on our roadways. Please take your time, and help us all celebrate the holidays without incident.

Be safe, and Happy Holidays!


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