Here I am -- younger, slimmer and with no gray hair -- in my associate member days at Durant Ambulance Service. Like they say, "If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken been care of myself!"
One of the joys of getting out and about is the chance that you’ll run into some long-lost friends. And one of the benefits of seeing them again is triggering your memories of the great times and good stories you share with them from the past.
I recently crossed paths in Muscatine with Durant’s Barb Price and her husband of 55 years, Darrell.
It had been years since we’d seen each other. I used to see Barb a lot, sometimes under less-than-pleasant conditions, like at car accidents, when I was a Walcott Fire Department volunteer and she was a member of Durant Ambulance Service, which is also staffed by volunteers.
In addition to emergency medical service calls in the Walcott area, I’d see Barb at ambulance business meetings and training sessions.
That’s because fellow Walcott firefighters Larry Keller and Kevin Coughlin and I also were associate members of the ambulance service.
We stayed in Durant to help staff the ambulances during busy times, like during the Durant Polka Fest. And we’d assist in other ways. For that we were permitted to attend ambulance training sessions so we could get our emergency medical technician recertification hours close to home.
I retired from Walcott Fire Department in 2003 after 27 years of service. I hung up my helmet because the second-shift job I had at the time was preventing me from attending WFD business meetings and training sessions. Also, I’d come to the conclusion that the fire service, and all that it involves, is better suited for someone in their 20s through 40s than someone in his 50s, as I was then.
Barb told me she also is retired now from Durant Ambulance. It wouldn’t be polite to give her age, but she jokes that she retired after going on a traffic accident call on the interstate and being mistaken by someone for one of the patients.
Seeing Barb reminded me of a couple of stories. One involved the old blue bicycle she used to pedal from Price Oil Co., the family business, to the ambulance building nearby to answer calls and attend meetings.
Once, when Barb left the ambulance building, her bike wasn’t where she had left it. Then someone pointed out that practical jokers had hoisted it onto the roof of the building.
Barb’s a good-natured person. She just laughed and waited patiently while some folks got a ladder and brought the bike back down.
I wasn’t involved in that prank, but I admit I did participate in another one that comes to mind.
Before the Durant Ambulance Service’s building next to the fire station was constructed, the meetings and training sessions took place in a small building that had formerly been home to Durant’s library and, at that time in the early ’80s, was being used as the police station.
One night during a training session, we were learning how to properly package a patient for transport on a backboard. One of the ambulance service members, kind-hearted Emogene Sorgenfrey, reluctantly consented to be our “patient.” That was a decision she’d soon regret.
We carefully applied a cervical collar to Em and placed her on the backboard, completely immobilized and strapped in place with her arms at her sides. She wasn’t going anywhere. Well, that’s not quite true. Though she couldn’t leave the backboard, she was, in fact, about to go somewhere.
Someone suggested carrying the backboard, with Em on it, across the street to the Dew Drop Inn. We did just that, despite her protests, and we deposited our patient on the bar.
Patrons were amused. This had to be a first in the history of Durant.
Em was red with embarrassment but took it all in good stride. Actually, since she was immobilized, she had little choice. Moments later we carried her back across the street and freed her.
I don’t remember Em ever again volunteering to be our patient.
Copyright 2009 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.