Sunday, June 11, 2006

 
 

City eyes annex of Oak Landing
By Becki Brantley
Monitor Correspondent

SEVEN POINTS—Residents of Oak Landing subdivision, as well as city employees crowded city hall to find out whether the city of Seven Points would annex them and if there would be pay raises for police officers.
The top agenda item was the first of three public hearings regarding the annexation of Oak Landing.
Residents voiced their concerns about the process. Mayor Gerald Taylor allowed all to be heard, without limitation to the usual three minutes.
Residents had held an informal polling to see if a majority wanted to be included in the city. Most of their comments were directed at this vote.
“We’ve voted this four times now, and every time it’s been voted down. Someone’s stuffed the ballot box, and I’m going to find out!” resident Garland Mosier said.
“I don’t recall it going the way he (Mosier) said – it was a majority to go city, and I was one of the ones to verify the proxy votes,” responded resident Sarah Wright.
After the dust settled, city secretary Debbie Mosley informed those present nothing was being decided tonight.
With two more hearings to go, on June 20 and July 11, Taylor told the residents the city council will decide the matter after hearing their concerns.
“We don’t want to be your enemies, we want to be your brothers,” Taylor stated. “If you are part of our community, our services such as animal control, code compliance, trash, etc. will be extended to you.”
One of the major concerns of the residents was road maintenance.
Some wanted assurances the city would fund road materials, but the city gave no such assurances.
“If you need help, we will help you in any way we can,” the mayor said.
“We can’t fill pot holes that you don’t want to spend the money to fill, but if you have a dangerous situation, we can work something out to get you taken care of, whether its helping you raise the money or supplying labor and equipment if you supply the materials.”
“If we’re already reaping some of the benefits of the city, such as fire and police services, why shouldn’t we be in the city?” asked citizen Richard Smith.
In other business, the council:
• granted a new base salary for police officers of $12 per hour, and dispatchers $9 per hour, with a .50 cent per hour raise for each after the six-month probationary period.
• tabled a request by Mike Black to build an office, and park commercial vehicles on his property.
 

At the heart of why we stand
By Jim McKee
Special to The Monitor

Editor’s note: Here’s a paramedic’s view at the scene of a tragic car accident, involving children which occurred April 15.
Paramedics, firefighters, first responders and police officers cope with constant exposure to trauma, sickness, pain, suffering, and the emotional upheaval that often results in violence. This story attempts to demonstrate how they keep their sanity even though witnessing so much human misery and stupidity.
How do successful professionals spell relief? The nature of their services, its long hours on duty and away from home, pulling 72-96-hour weeks, brings stress on themselves and their families.
But the hardest of all is answering calls involving the most innocent and vulnerable members of society, our children.
Emergencies involving children are dreaded most of all.
Children are supposed to be guarded from life’s dangers – away from the turmoil created by adults who abandon reason and responsibility.
However, it is a sad fact that children are often swept away by choices made by unthinking adults. Children have no choice but to suffer the consequences.
Healing the soul from the effects of these tragedies tests emergency personnel to their very core, as they process through anger, bitterness and utter disgust at the pain inflicted on the mangled bodies of these innocents.
Such was the nature of a call experienced this past April, a beautiful day, the day before Easter Sunday. The call came just after one-thirty in the afternoon.
Several of us were fully engaged in an Emergency Care Attendant class at the Mabank Fire Department when the familiar radio tone signaled us to respond.
Ironically, we had been discussing the emotional downside of delivering emergency medical care. We examined the topics of death and grieving and the need for watching out for each other.
The call was dispatched as a one-car rollover. Updates en route alerted us to expect multiple victims, who had been ejected. And then our worst fear was confirmed.
Children were involved.
Mabank Firefighter Mike Bass was the first to arrive on the scene. The terror, the desperate tone in his voice will long be remembered. “We have four ejected . .three of them are children. Send help!"
Every time Mike gave an update the news got worse. Our anxiety grew with each report – the condition of the victims, the overall chaos at the scene.
The way Mike kept his composure while “sizing up the scene” helped all of us remain calm, and evaluate the resources that would be needed. Requests for additional rescue and medical assistance went out.
We told Mike helicopters and additional EMS units were on the way, and we were only a few minutes away. However, it seemed to take an eternity to travel those eight miles.
The first thing we saw as we arrived was the overturned van, on the wrong side of the road.
Adults were walking or running around, some screaming in sheer terror, with horrific looks on their faces. Helplessness was the pervading emotion. “Somebody do something!” came the desperate cry from nearby.
One adult was being pulled away, as Mike attempted to evaluate a child. Mike walked up to my unit and told me he had found three children and one adult.
He pointed to one victim lying under several tree limbs brought to the ground by the impact.
He told me of the mother lying near the front of the vehicle, and another child near the rear. But where was the third, was she under the van?
I went around the back to the passenger side and found two adults with the third girl.
Her name is Presley.
I knelt down to examine the girl, who was perhaps 4 or 5-years-old, lying partially in the van, mostly out on the ground.
The impact had peeled the sliding passenger door back like a sardine can.
I could still hear the cries coming from the other side.
Mike had followed me around the van, I asked him to go make sure each child was breathing and receiving basic life support, and to let me know if I was needed.
I looked down at the motionless body before me. Only an occasional, faint moan was heard.
For each of us - Mike Bass, Robbie Munden, Lupe Garza, Dameon Milton, and Josh Jennings - the training kicked in. Those hours spent in the classroom, the relentless drilling and reminders, “Stick with the basics … airway … breathing … circulation,” served us well when every moment was critical to those injured children.
Presley stopped breathing several times, before advanced life support (ALS) arrived on scene. Initially, I was able to use a simple pocket mask to breathe life back into her limp and broken body, keeping her oxygen levels high enough to ward off brain damage.
The ALS team from East Texas Medical Center was the first to arrive and take over care of one of the other girls with severe head trauma.
Someone told me her scalp had been peeled back. Her name is Gracee.
The second girl, Courtney, had massive facial injuries, and her eyes were swollen shut.
We placed Presley onto a backboard and moved her from the ditch to the roadway. Again, she stopped breathing … again the basics worked … but soon continuous resuscitation was mandated, as Presley was unable to breathe for herself.
At one point, I looked up and saw two men at her feet praying. I will never forget their looks of desperation and anxiety, nor their cries going up to the Great Physician. The two men were Presley’s father and grandfather. Then Presley began to breathe on her own. I assisted her as she struggled with each breath. I encouraged the two men to continue praying. There was no doubt in my mind their prayers were working.
Other bodies began to emerge from the wreckage.
Bystanders, first responders and paramedics worked in unison, each dedicated to one cause and one goal.
Each used their training and skills to reverse the horror that sought to take away the life of those three young girls.
The driver of the van emerged and was taken to one of the two ambulances.
Her condition stable, a shattered arm was her only injury. I could only imagine what she was experiencing.
A PHI Air Medical helicopter arrived. The medical crew assisted me with Presley’s breathing. There in the middle of Farm-to-Market 90 they quickly administered the necessary rapid sequence intubation drugs and placed a breathing tube into her small airway.
Her little body was now being fed the necessary oxygen it needed to survive.
Two more helicopters from ETMC-EMS arrived and swept the two remaining girls away. All three were taken to the best pediatric trauma center available, Children’s Hospital in Dallas.
Slowly, the last patient, family member and bystander left the scene.
And we were left with questions, fears and hopes. What would be the outcome? Would they survive? If they did survive, what kind of permanent disability would they suffer? Why were the girls not wearing their seat belts? Questions not soon answered.
The first responders stood together in front of our rescue unit and the stories began to unfold and with them the shedding of tears. The raw emotions were being allowed to surface.
It grew very quiet. I was numb. A whirlwind of feelings erupted – anger, grief, confusion, denial and deep sorrow. Some of us just wanted to get home and hug our wife and kids.
Mike was finding the whole situation difficult to comprehend, let alone talk about. On the one hand, I had witnessed a miracle. On the other hand, I knew that this day may also end in death and feelings of futility. We finished cleaning up the scene and returned to the station, hoping the rest of the night would be quiet and free of tragedy. We had had enough.
Information about the girls’ condition began to come in. Initial reports were not promising. Two lay on the brink of death.
The next 48 to 72 hours would reveal whether our hopes or our fears would be realized.
The next day, Easter Sunday, had a new purpose. Three little girls needed what was to be celebrated worldwide that day – life.
We needed to hear of new beginnings, healing, and an understanding that the worst of our fears could be swept away by faith and hope.
The only news from Dallas that day was more of the same.
A critical incident debriefing was set for Monday night. We gathered, and for two hours, we talked.
We reviewed the incident, looking for areas in need of improvement, understanding we had performed our skills.
We did the best we knew how to give each of those little girls a chance to overcome death.
For each of us, it was a new beginning.
We would survive the emotional upheaval.
We also came to fully appreciate and cherish the bond we share as firefighters, first responders and police officers.
The weeks that followed were a roller coaster of news and emotion. Slowly but surely the good reports began to come from Dallas. Those reports began to outweigh the bad. The girls had a long way to go, but at least their conditions were improving. Days passed, hope grew.
A couple of weeks later, a photograph of three girls, lined up, standing in front of their mom was displayed at the station. Each of those girls was smiling. Some showed the scars of that tragic Saturday. Nonetheless they were alive.
A few days later, the fire department received an invitation to attend a victory celebration at the Liberty Missionary Baptist Church in Gun Barrel City on Sunday, May 28.
I was told that the girls had been released from the hospital and would be in attendance. That included Presley.
Dameon Milton, Mike Bass and his children were already at the church when I arrived.
Annette, my wife and truly my greatest source of support was at my side.
We were greeted in the parking lot by a gentleman wearing a big smile.
He was the grandfather of one of the the girls.
We were escorted into the small, energy-packed auditorium and led to reserved seats. “Thank you for what you do” were words floating up to us from behind. Smiles and handshakes were freely distributed to us. The heartfelt thanks were deeply appreciated and was some of the very best medicine on our own emotional road to recovery from the tragedy.
There was another Person there that Sunday morning. His role in the healing process is at the heart of why we stand on the front lines against the daily onslaught of pain and suffering.
What began weeks earlier as a time of tragedy and potential mourning had been reversed – maybe even redeemed.
The Great Physician was in attendance that dark Saturday afternoon.
I saw Him work through the training and commitment of those first responders. And He never left the side of those three little girls.
The celebration service at Liberty Baptist Church began.
The sounds of praise were strong enough to lift the roof off any doubt or uncertainty. We were there to celebrate Life.