Drug reaction + a phone call + 3 minutes = THREE HEROES

Sally Kamara mustered enough strength to dial 911 after ingesting a prescription that began paralyzing her. Within an hour firefighters had stabilized her. Kamara thanked them at a city council meeti

June 18, 2005

Hood River resident Sally Kamara sat down at her kitchen table to enjoy a late afternoon cup of coffee on May 3 — unaware that her life was in danger.

Just 30 minutes earlier, Kamara had ingested a new medicine prescribed by her doctor for an ongoing health condition. She was relaxing during the break in her routine when she suddenly began to feel sick.

Minutes later, she was forced to gasp for air and quickly discovered that her body was becoming paralyzed. Realizing that something was horribly wrong, Kamara slid out of her chair in a panic and wiggled across the floor toward the telephone.

It seemed to take forever to cross the linoleum and force her frozen fingers to dial 9-1-1. She managed to wheeze out a request for help to the dispatcher on the other end of the line.

And then Kamara began concentrating all of her energies on drawing a next breath while she waited for the emergency responders to arrive.

But that wait turned out to be less than three minutes. Kamara was surprised when her “heroes” burst through the front door so quickly to administer medical aid. And she was more than a little relieved when they stabilized her condition within the next 45 minutes with the use of oxygen and a saline intravenous drip.

She was then transported to Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital for a full evaluation and emerged a few hours later with no permanent physical problems.

Kamara said when the firefighters arrived, she immediately began to relax under their care and even dared to believe that all would be well.

“We are talking top-notch treatment here, top-notch. These guys could be in New York City, they are that good,” she said.

Kamara felt a strong need to personally thank Capt. Scott Tennant, Medic Clancy Cox and Medic Jay Geraci for their efforts on her behalf. She pursued the issue until Bob Francis, city manager, granted her a few minutes at Monday’s council meeting. The soft-spoken and shy Kamara found the words to praise her rescuers for their quick action on her behalf.

Following her remarks, the City Council awarded the trio with hats reserved for outstanding performance by a community member. They were also presented with a certificate of merit that will be put into their personnel records.

“As far as I know, there has not been another time in recent history where anybody in public service was actually honored like this,” Francis said.

He said most of the time, people are quick to speak out when something goes wrong — but seldom is anyone as motivated as Kamara to express thanks.

“I think this type of thing goes a long way when it comes to boosting morale,” he said.

Kamara believes that she is alive today because of the quick action taken by Tennant, Cox and Geraci. She said expending a little effort in return for her life has seemed like a small price to pay. And she feels much more relaxed now knowing that highly trained firefighters are on duty and ready to lend a hand at a moment’s notice.

“I’ve never had to call 9-1-1 before and I was in bad shape. It was just the right protocol to say thank you, that’s just what you do,” she said.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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