The motto for Alaska’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is ‘Neighbor Helping Neighbor’ and in the past several weeks, I’ve been able to witness communities walking the walk, not just talking the talk.
Recently, a child was murdered in the village of Kake. Responding to the call for help, the Kake EMS and the community responded to one of the most dreadful scenes imaginable. In the wake of the event, resources flooded into Kake to help with the psychological and physical trauma surrounding it. Mental health professionals, counselors and clergy all stepped in to help but the volunteer responders in Kake needed time to grieve and begin healing.
It didn’t take long for the word to get out that the Kake EMS needed some support in the aftermath. All it took was a couple of phone calls and the region responded! In less than four hours after the request, both the Petersburg Fire Department and the Wrangell Fire Department had mobilized into four teams of two volunteers each to provide EMS coverage in Kake. Thanks to SEARHC EMS, we were able to fund the travel expenses incurred.
Their rapid ability to mobilize, deploy resources and network with each other and Kake EMS was astonishing to watch unfold. Their compassion, along with the blessings of their community governments, touched many and I can’t express just how moving it was to witness. It was also stunning to receive the multitude of calls from Ketchikan, Juneau and Sitka offering to facilitate with volunteers from those communities willing to donate money, transportation and manpower to help their fellow responders. I was truly humbled.
The community of Kake has a long recovery process ahead and it is hoped that by helping to shoulder the burden, however briefly, we’ve given them strength for the time ahead.
Thanks to the collaboration of Southeast Alaska fire departments and City governments, volunteer EMS squads and all the links in the chain, we have demonstrated just what our system is capable of.
Bobbi Leichty, Executive Director of SE Region EMS Council, Sitka