August 9, 2012 — News-Record
Health care, first aid squad move forward
THE OLD GUY
BY HILDING ‘GUS’ LINDQUIST
Note: This is my first column for the News-Record. You will find photos of the Maplewood First Aid Squad in my album with the same title.
Shortly after I woke up from bypass surgery in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at St. Barnabas Medical Center on April 10, one of my attending cardiologists, Dr. Gantz of The Heart Group in Millburn, told me my repaired heart could last another 20 to 25 years.
At age 73 my first thought was, “What am I going to do with all this time?” Living to 95 — give or take a year or two — was ever in my plans. My second thought was, “How does this affect the future of my health care?” I am on hemodialysis with chronic kidney failure and on hormone treatment for prostate cancer.
Now, as you most likely already know from the news, there will be a lot more of us living longer ... soon. Thomas Friedman quoted Barbara Bedney, the director of public policy for The Jewish Federations of North America, in his New York Times column published July 29, stating: “We will see a doubling of the number of older adults — people over the age of 65 — by 2030.”
It’s hanging there, over our heads: major change in health care policy is certain for older adults, due to our doubling in number throughout the next 18 years. It is well within my target range, and within most of yours, also. This won’t just affect older adults. It will impact everyone in our nation.
Where do we start untangling the future of health care? Gandhi said it best, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
The question became, “Where do I start untangling the future of my health care?
Since the fall of 2009, and leading up to my open heart surgery, I have been taken to emergency rooms because of my heart condition by local ambulance services enough times to understand the value of “local.” Sooner can be infinitely better than later when it comes to a heart attack.
When the news that the Maplewood First Aid Squad was in trouble came on the front page of the News-Record late last month in the article “Lack of support to squad hinders its operations” by Maya (Chung), I knew this was a local health care issue I wanted to work on.
Through friends, Maplewood is a connected town; I got in touch with Pete Hauptman, a Maplewood resident and a volunteer with the first aid squad, and made an appointment to talk with him.
What I discovered in the interview was an older adult who is in his element. I was drawn into Pete’s connection with he squad as a volunteer other than an emergency medical technician because of his passion for it. I also learned that he’s retired and an active volunteer in several community endeavors.
The definition of “element” comes from Sir Ken Robinson, who is quoted in an article by Will Fifield, “Teach your children well,” appearing in the August issue of The Costco Connection. It states: “The element is finding that point where talent meets passion. Both are important. If you’re in your element, you’re doing something for which you have a natural aptitude.”
Pete joined the Maplewood First Aid Squad in late 2008 and became treasurer in 2009. He knows the squad’s history and current state. From 11:45 a.m. until after 2:30 p.m. on July 29, interspersed with anecdotes from his life, he shared his knowledge of the squad.
The squad runs entirely on donations and its services are free to our community. It needs at least $800 per week to operate, and tries to keep a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. schedule, seven days a week.
That translates into an annual budget of between $40,000 and $50,000. Since the 2008 slump in the economy, donations have not kept pace with costs, and certainly not nearly enough to cover “new equipment purchases, such as walkie talkies and an ambulance,” as written in the July 26 article.
The squad also needs an influx of volunteers to become EMTs in order to return to a full schedule consistently.
As Pete was quoted in the News-Record article, “If we don’t have enough people, we have to cut shifts, and the fire department has to respond to calls, leaving them less available if a fire occurs.”
The bottom line for me is, “Does the Maplewood First Aid Squad add value to our community worthy of our efforts to keep it operational?”
I agree with Pete that it does and that we should work to increase donations until it is funded and staffed for 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. service, seven days a week or 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 24 hours on Saturday and Sunday — and even 24/7 if possible.
Awareness requires action. My first step is asking the Senior Club of Maplewood, of which I am a member, to become involved in fundraising for the squad. At the club’s information table at the 35th annual Senior Picnic for Maplewood residents ages 55 and older at the Maplewood pool on Sept. 5 at noon, we’ll provide information on making a booster pledge to the squad.
We know that “the more local, the better” isn’t just for older adults’ medical emergencies. The proximity and resulting response time of services in any emergency are critical to a positive outcome, especially if lives are at risk and seconds count.
And, the level of “volunteered” financial support from our community for the supplies and equipment needed by our volunteer Maplewood First Aid Squad sends a message to prospective volunteers, doesn’t it? Superior volunteers, such as our first aid squad members, have choices.
Shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to get them to choose Maplewood’s squad? That is, we should if we agree that the squad adds value to our community worthy of our support.
September 13, 2012 – News-Record
Walking: A common denominator in wellness
THE OLD GUY
BY HILDING 'GUS' LINDQUIST
Friday morning, I went to East Side Fitness, 1865 Springfield Avenue — where I am now a member — and walked more than 5K in less than an hour on the treadmill. It's good for my heart. Note: All addresses are in Maplewood,…Continue
Posted on September 18, 2012 at 9:14pm