Let’s breathe: A collective, effective response

A kiter goes face-down into the water and prays that someone will come to his aid.

Someone does, and the man lives to tell the tale and to thank his new friends.

This happens at the same time as we hear the call, heard at City Council, to “catch our breaths” over the Bob Francis resignation.

We’ll mute any comment, for now, on the political situation at City Hall, and offer up the connection between accusations of hyperventilating in council chambers and the rescue of a man who truly could not breathe.

People came to his aid. The full story, by Adam Lapierre, is on page A7.

Tom Dawson willingly spoke of his ordeal, posed for a photo, and expressed gratitude for those who saved him.

In most cases like this, the save is made and the victim is either checked on the scene by medical personnel or transported to the hospital, and normally it does not make the news. In some cases the victims and rescuers are shy about publicity, for understandable reasons, and nothing is made of it.

In this case, Tom Dawson and Justin Wiley agreed to talk, and that is healthy for all of us; to acknowledge events that are part of local life, as well as what goes into turning a potential tragedy into a happy ending.

Things like communication and compassion.

It is often the case that people are injured at the beach, and fellow wind sports folk are among the first to help. Tom Dawson’s rescuers are one more example in a long line of incidents that any river or lake town can pride itself in; hikers, riders, swimmers, surfers, kiters setting aside whatever they are doing, sometimes putting their own lives in peril.

Much of that impetus surely comes from shared experience, an innate “that could be me” response urge. The instinctive we’re-in-this-together sensibility leads to effective action.

Tom Dawson took a deep breath, fortunately, and so can we all, while also realizing that a collective, compassionate response is often needed when we hear a call for rescue.

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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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