Tag Archives: Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Services

Roundup: Remarkable Playhouse, Pop Art, WVEMS, More

Stage and screen met Saturday night. The Westport Country Playhouse’s gala was held outdoors, at the Remarkable Theater.

Doug Tirola and Mark Lamos’ short-form documentary saluted the WCP’s 90-year history, and many of the artists who have appeared onstage.

The evening included filmed performances by Playhouse alumni like Kate Baldwin, a long with Jane Alexander, Lissy Newman, Christopher Plummer, Stephen Sondheim, Richard Thomas and more.

Don’t worry about the photo below: Everyone was masked, except while eating.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

Speaking of stars:

Paul Newman, I Love Lucy, Martha Stewart, Rodney Dangerfield, Robert Ludlum, Redford, Superman, Dennis the Menace, Great Gatsby, Bewitched, Anne Hathaway, Christopher Lloyd, Helen Hunt and gazillions of others — all lived in Westport, had a show based here, or were otherwise connected to our town.

This multi-media original showing them all is now available exclusively at Westport River Gallery (corner of Riverside Avenue and Post Road West).

It was created by songwriter Frankie Vinci. His rock journey has led him to create raw, colorful pop art/mixed media pieces.

Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service’s annual fundraising drive is underway.

Nearly 100 volunteers and 6 full-time staff provide superb pre-hospital care to anyone living, working or passing through Westport. They give more than 18,000 hours of their time each year, responding to over 2,300 emergency calls. They also teach CPR, EMT and Stop the Bleed classes.

This year has been especially trying. Because of COVID, over 900 calls meant  donning full PPE. Still, they answered the calls.

WVEMS purchases all of the equipment needed — from a box of Band-Aids to an entire, state-of-the-art ambulance. But they could not do it without us.

Tax-deductible donations make it all possible. Click here to help.

So Westport Volunteer EMS can continue to help us.

And finally … did you know that October is National Pasta Month?


Emma Heads Straight To EMS

Emma Straight’s interest in medicine was strong. Certified as an EMT when she was just 16, she spent 20 hours a week with the Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service. Her usual shift was 6 to 11 p.m.

In addition, at Staples High School Emma founded and led the Prosthetic Hand Club.

After graduating last spring, she headed west to Santa Clara University. She intended to major in biology. But an Introduction to Public Health class in the first quarter — covering the spread of disease, our healthcare system and the socioeconomic impact of illness — sparked her interest.

She switched majors, to public health.

Emma Straight

Emma had no idea of the public health crisis just around the corner. But when her college shut down in mid-March and she returned home, she knew exactly what to do.

On March 16, Emma headed to WVEMS. She’s been working 3 shifts a week ever since.

“I always felt comfortable there,” she says of the Jesup Road headquarters next to the police station. “It was a calming place for me.”

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it still is.

Despite the public health crisis, it’s also a very safe place, Emma emphasizes.

“I’m really, really proud of our leaders, like Marc Hartog and Kevin Doherty,” she says. “They prioritize our safety, and give us a lot of up-to-date information. We have to be safe. If we get sick, we can’t help anyone.”

The safety protocol begins with detailed questions asked by dispatchers, for every call. Many are now COVID-related. EMTs must be certain of every situation, before they arrive.

Once on scene, EMTs keep their distance while asking their screening questions. If a patient shows symptoms of the virus, they don protective gear.

But, Emma says, “Our patient care is the same as always. It hasn’t changed at all.

“We’re super cautious,” she reiterates. “We don’t know who has been exposed to what. Everyone is on edge. But there are so many precautions, we feel good.”

The public has been great about donating masks too, Emma notes.

When she was in high school, Emma felt good about giving back through WVEMS. Now rather than just sitting home, she feels “really, really good. I feel like I’m really able to do something, at a very tough time.”

Memorial Day EMTs

“06880” reader Gladys Handelman just sent this Memorial Day story along.  It’s definitely worth waiting for:

On Monday, Gladys was watching the parade at a private home next to Town Hall.  She was on one side of a low stone wall; a senior woman was on the other, with her adult daughter.

Suddenly the daughter yelled:  “Mom, are you alright?”  The mother was standing but her head was down, her eyes closed.

The daughter shouted several more times, urgently.  There was no response.

At that moment in the parade, the Emergency Medical Service trucks passed by.  The daughter flagged one down.

The truck stopped.  Within moments, the mother was on a stretcher — whisked away quickly, carefully and compassionately.

Few people saw what happened — but that’s the way it is with Westport EMS. 

Even in the midst of the Memorial Day parade, they don’t take holidays.

Alan Yoder’s EMS Years

Alan Yoder

Alan Yoder

Thirty years ago — in addition to many other chores — Westport police officers drove ambulances.

There had to be a better way, people thought, and Emergency Medical Services was born.  Ed Audley recruited personnel.  Among the first was Alan Yoder — a pretzel truck driver who’d worked as a summer EMT at Sherwood Island.

EMS grew rapidly.  Today the non-profit organization staffs several ambulances.  It also raises funds to purchase all vehicles, equipment, communication gear and training material.

EMTs are on duty 24/7/365.  They respond to over 2,100 medical emergencies a year, while also staffing sporting events and other community activities.

Last week Yoder — the EMS coordinator — left the organization he’d been a key part of for 30 years.  (His wife also retired recently, after 25 years of service.)  On July 1 he took the town’s retirement incentive.  He looks forward to teaching emergency medicine, as he did early in his career.

Yoder will miss the excitement of working emergencies and taking care of patients.  But he looks back with pride at helping create a nationally recognized, self-sufficient corps of committed men and women.

He’s been thanked more times than he can count. “Knowing you made a difference in people’s lives — that why we do this,” he says.

For 30 years, Yoder did it — quietly, compassionately, calmly and professionally.

Thanks, Alan — and thanks too for helping create a corps that will carry on your legacy so well.