Pelham Fire Department Celebrates Lives Saved This Year
by Lynne Ober
“Some firefighters never have an opportunity to use some of their life-saving skills,” said Pelham Fire Fighter/EMT Rich Hanegan. “We had four opportunities in one year.” These were successful opportunities that deserved celebration.
And they celebrated their opportunities with families who benefited from their skills. Calling it a Celebration of the Gift of Life, members of the Pelham Fire Department reunited with the families and individuals that had been saved this year from cardiac arrest. It was a day of reflection and a day of celebration.
Typically, very few people survive cardiac arrest, but, this year, Pelham Fire was able to save four individuals. Three of the individuals and their families returned to the fire station to celebrate the gift of life with Pelham firefighters and police officers. Unfortunately, the fourth patient passed away a few weeks after being revived, due to other complications.
“I praise God every day,” said Nancy Boisvert of her husband’s recovery. Bob Boisvert had been shoveling snow, but had gone back inside when he had his heart attack. “It was a bad snow storm,” said Lieutenant Ray Cashman. “It took a while to get there. We knew he had chest pains, but when we arrived he was unconscious on the floor with no pulse.”
Their training kicked in and the men went to work. Thanks to their efforts Bob Boisvert came back to life. He and his wife are eternally grateful to the heroic efforts on that snowy day.
“You are really affecting a whole family and not just one patient,” said Fire Chief Dave Fisher, who while trying very diligently to stay in the background so that his men could celebrate their successes with community members, was also beaming like a proud Papa Bear.
School Nurse Barbara Campbell was taking a student’s blood pressure when she just keeled over. Fortunately for her, her student, Robert Saitow, is a Police Explorer and he knew she was in serious trouble. He ran first to the office and told them to call 911 and then quickly tracked down Judy Metz, Pelham High School Athletic Director, who is trained in CPR.
Metz performed CPR until the Pelham Fire Department arrived and took over.
Now, less than two months later, Campbell is ready to go back to work. “I was so lucky that everyone reacted the way they did. If I’d been at home alone, I’d be dead,” Campbell said. “I had trained Judy in CPR and then she saved me.”
Not only is there a very low survival rate from cardiac arrest, there’s an even lower percentage of people who return to a normal life. All of the surviving individuals saved by the Pelham Fire Department have returned to their normal life.
For Mike and Ann Marie Lacharite it’s just a miracle. Ann Marie recalled the day that her husband had his heart attack and how professional and organized the responding firefighters were. “It was so scary. I followed the ambulance in my car and his heart stopped on the way to the hospital, but they got it started again.”
“It has been shown that early defibrillation is a key part of cardiac arrest survival,” said Hanegan. “Every one of our fire trucks and all the ambulances carry equipment for defibrillation. We want to get the equipment into our schools too.”
Hanegan explained that the Automated External Defibrillators s really walk you through the process. “We want to have people trained because it is a stressful situation and if you’ve been trained, you will react better than if you just pull an AED off the wall and start reading the monitor. But the monitor does tell you exactly what to do. It’s an amazing piece of equipment.”
“We gathered today to share joy and in recognition to the people who saved lives,” said EMT Director, Lieutenant Bob Chatel. “We have a very high percentage of saves. Usually, you are lucky to make one save in a lifetime. We’ve had three this year. It’s proof that you need this type of equipment.”
Chatel contributed a high success rate to its extremely dedicated personnel, continuing education programs, 24/7 Advanced Life Support personnel and paramedics, short response times, and new technology and equipment. “Without the support of Chief Fisher, Board of Selectmen, town administration, and Budget Committee we would not have the ability to perform at such an optimal level. We especially want to thank the residents of the town of Pelham; their continued support is the backbone to our department.”
The Town of Pelham Citizen Emergency Response Team, based upon this success with AED equipment, is actively trying to raise funds to place AEDs throughout the town. The target goal of the campaign is $25,000.
Fisher credited former Selectman Bill McDevitt with beginning the partnership with Lowell. As a result of that partnership Pelham is actively trying to become a Heart Safe community. To achieve this there must be public access AEDs in every town building.
The Pelham Fire Department is supporting the CERT Team with their fundraising to reach this goal. If you wish to donate to the AED fund, donations can be sent to the Pelham CERT Lifesavers Program, c/o Citizens Bank.
Pelham Second Graders Go Back in Time to First Thanksgiving
by Lynne Ober
What do you know about that very first Thanksgiving, actually called the First Harvest? Do you know the customs? What people ate? How they dressed?
If you were a student in Mrs. Andrews’ second grade classroom at Pelham Elementary School, you’d be able to answer those questions and more.
Students were divided into various research groups and each group had an assignment that needed to be completed and then presented to the whole class.
It was a fun, creative way to teach critical thinking, enhance non-fiction reading skills, and teach some in-depth history.
Students studied life and customs in Plymouth Village and learned how Pilgrims lived among the Wampanoag Indian tribe who also lived in the area.
They came to school dressed in costumes, played games similar to those played by the youth back in the 1600s, ate their venison lunch with a clam shell – after all Pilgrims didn’t have knives, forks and spoons.
“You should have been in the classroom,” laughed Mrs. Andrews. “It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Doing their research, they learned that children were not supposed to speak.”
Because it was raining, the young Pilgrims and Indians retreated to the gym to play their games after enjoying their lunch.
“We had green beans and carrots,” beamed one youngster. “I get those now and children ate them then.” He paused, “but I get a fork and a spoon not a clam shell.”
“We learned a lot,” grinned one of the students who was playing leap frog. “I liked it.”
Create Christmas Keepsakes at the Nesmith Library
by Lynne Ober
Friends of Windham Library conducts a series of holiday craft workshops every year. The crafts are divided into age-appropriate projects, and parents are encouraged to come and stay with their 3- to 5-year-old crafters.
The first workshop was held last Monday. Participants made a countdown Christmas tree. The complete project can be enjoyed by families as they count down the days until Christmas.
Although the room was filled with three to five year olds, you could have heard a pin drop as the young crafters under the guidance of their parents and FLOW members worked diligently to complete their projects.
When asked what she was making, three-year-old Erica gave me a “what are you dumb” look, and happily replied, “I’m making a craft.” Although she was very intent on completing her craft, she did expand upon her project and pointed out all the work that she had done.
Registration is required and some classes are already full, but you can still register by contacting Nesmith Library:
Workshop Schedule for 3 – 5 year olds:
Workshop Schedule for 6 years and up:
Traces of Substances Found During K-9 Drug Search
by Karen Plumley
It’s the kind of visit that must go unannounced.
“This process isn’t something we let people know about ahead of time. We don’t want the kids not to bring stuff,” explained Detective Anne T. Perriello to an audience of several K-9 handlers and volunteers during a briefing held prior to the K-9 drug search at Pelham High School on November 22.
“We want this message to be sent: keep the drugs out of our schools,” said Pelham High School Principal Dr. Dorothy Mohr.
After the briefing, officers and their canine companions moved out and headed toward Pelham Memorial and High schools, where students and staff were unaware that anything unusual was about to happen.
“Only myself and my personal secretary knew what was going on,” described Mohr. At approximately 9:25 a.m., with cruisers arriving in the parking lot, the fire alarm was pulled and students were directed into the gymnasium for the search that took somewhere between 30 and 35 minutes. Police made a dramatic entrance into the gym with their police dogs in tow and began their search of hallways, locker rooms, and classrooms. The parking lot was also searched.
“The scent of marijuana gets into the fibers of the cars and is so intense that the dogs can pick it up from the outside,” described Perriello.
In the end, only traces of illegal substance were found. “There were no arrests made whatsoever,” explained Perriello. “The dogs hit on a couple of lockers and cars, and the students were dealt with administratively.”
“I think it went very well,” described Principal Mohr. “Nothing was found, only trace scents. Students are doing their part to keep the drugs out of the schools.” According to Mohr, students who drove the cars that were marked by the dogs gave the officers permission to search inside the vehicles, and after no substances were found, they were instructed to have them cleaned. One dog hit upon a scent he liked in one of the lockers of the boys’ locker room, but after further investigation, it turned out to be a ham and cheese sandwich. The dogs certainly do have a keen sense of smell.
Freshmen at the high school seemed surprised that a search of Pelham Memorial School was being conducted simultaneously. In actuality, this search has been done in the past, but according to Detective Perriello, no one at the middle school was aware that it was happening due to the fact that students and teachers were in lock-down in their classrooms. Also, the younger students were not allowed to see the dogs. In the end, when the search was complete at the middle school, not a single trace of any substance was found.
Back at the high school, students milled around quietly in the gym waiting for the search to be over. “We thought it was a fire drill at first, but when we came in here (the gym) we knew it was about the drugs,” described Kathy and Catherine, two juniors. “I don’t really know what to think about this,” described Kathy, when asked how she felt about the search.
But other students had more definite opinions. “I think it’s a good thing,” said freshman Christina Mason. “I don’t mind getting out of class,” another freshman said. On the flip side, senior Mike Luciano was clearly annoyed as he stated, “This is ridiculous. If kids are doing or selling drugs, they wouldn’t be stupid enough to bring it into the school.” His companion, senior Jeff Grazulis, seemed to concur. “We are missing class, and if we have to be here, we might as well be learning something,” he said.
“We respect this process. It keeps the kids on their toes, even if some may find it disruptive,” described business teacher Wendy Dorbal. Members of the police, as well as most of the teachers, seemed to agree that the annual K-9 search is a deterrent. In a final sentiment, Mohr expressed her gratitude to the police department and the process. “We really appreciate the cooperation of the local police,” she said.
Giving Iraq Soldiers and Civilians a Little Holiday Boost
Helping others is what the holidays are all about. With that in mind, Pelham Elementary School decided to help wounded soldiers in Iraq.
Through the organization of the Pelham Elementary School Student Council, the entire school collected donations to aid injured soldiers and civilians in Iraq. The 900-plus students collected items such as shaving supplies, deodorant, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, coffee, beef jerky, white T-shirts, and coloring books and crayons. Over the course of two- weeks in November, the students collected some 1,500 items. These supplies will be shipped to a hospital in Iraq and, hopefully, make the holidays a bit easier for those serving there.
These donations follow the huge success of the school’s Walk-to-Louisiana walk-a-thon in which the students raised more than $8,000 to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Pelham Elementary School wishes to thank the generous members of their community.