Olympic Adventure for Local Emts
Jim Gordon, 33, and Pete Alger, 45, both of Huntington, are Emergency Medical Technicians, more commonly known as EMTs. People who can handle these kinds of adrenaline raising experiences are always looking for adventure, and so they signed up to be volunteers at the Olympics. They applied on-line, giving their credentials, and Jim was assigned to answer phones at SLOC. He called and said he preferred to be a medical volunteer - he and 10,000 others he was told, and that there would only be 2,000 needed in the medical fields. But a call came on a Sunday from Joe Treadwell of the Murray City Fire Department who was at the Delta Center as Medical Coordinator, asking more about Jim's experience as an EMT and when he found out that Jim also had volunteer fire fighting experience, that was the clincher.
Pete started out being assigned to Event Services at the E-Center, but the call from Treadwell included Pete, too. So Jim and Pete were both accepted to serve together as EMTs for the Salt Lake Ice Center (SLIC) from Feb. 17-23.
Jim's wife, Stacey, who is also an EMT, wanted so much to be a volunteer, especially at that venue since her favorite spectator sport is figure skating. But, alas, she was expecting their 5th child and it just wasn't possible for her to go, but she was excited that Jim was chosen.
Jim and Pete went to several training sessions beginning in October. "Not medical training," stated Jim, "but how to act, relate to people of all nations and cultures, have a positive attitude. They were really "Rah, Rah" sessions. CHARGE was the motto word, broken down into words like caring, helpful, etc."
Jim and Stacey's new baby boy was born on Jan. 16. One month later, Jim and Pete went to SLC where Jim stayed with a cousin on 8th South and 9th West - fairly close so he could drive into the downtown area every day. Pete stayed with his daughter who lives in West Jordon and rode TRAX to commute to the SLIC.
Their daily schedule started at about 2:30 p.m. each day and ended at 9 or 10 p.m. Of course, they had to pass security checks each time they checked in and had a "Playbook" that was stamped as kind of a keepsake of their service which they could and did also use to get autographs and names of new friends.
They worked as Mobile Spectator Medical Teams, consisting of two people. Jim and Pete sometimes worked together, with other EMTs or mostly with a nurse. The EMTs were "street wise" to the emergency part, and the nurses had medical abilities of a hospital environment, so it was a good team.
"Pete and I would role play and pre-plan just what we would do if certain things happened in a given area of the event center. It wasn't two hours after we had done this one evening when a lady fell in the upper stands and we had to carry her out on a backboard during one of the figure skating events," Jim recalled. "We were highly commended for having the foresight about looking and thinking ahead and anticipating circumstances each day." Even the nurses appreciated the scenarios that kept the team on their toes daily. "SLIC was equipped just like a "mini ER," IHC donated most of the materials and equipment."
"Our only other medical emergency could have been a very harrowing experience. A police officer on duty went into a diabetic emergency, was not aware of his circumstance, made his way into an office area, and passed out," said Jim. "We had two-way radios with head sets, and fanny packs with "meds" and big suitcase packs, and were summoned to the office. The officer, completely out of it, raised up, started to rip off his shirt and was talking incoherently, and we got him under control. I said to another officer who had come in 'Get his weapon off of him!' not knowing what he would do being in his altered state of mind. I felt strongly that there were signs pointing to diabetes, so we got some sugar in him, an orange drink, and in 10-15 minutes he came around and asked 'what's going on?' We all felt that it was good that he had wandered where he had and what could have been a terrible incident for him and maybe many others had been solved by prompt attention and him being disarmed quickly."
"We got to see most of the skating competitions. We saw more famous people in that week than most see in a lifetime." Jim recalled seeing Mayor Rudy Guiliani from New York, actually met Oksana Baivl, and saw LDS President Hinkley, Kevin Cosner, and of course, most of the figure skaters and short track skaters, even Apollo Ono. "We were in the best of venues; we were inside, it wasn't cold."
Each day Jim would call home to check on Stacey and the children. There are T.J. (Tristan James), 11; D.J. (Damion Josh), 9; K.J. (Kelsey Jeanette), 7; B.J. (Brenton Jess), 5; and baby J.J. (James Jaron), 2 and 1/2 months. Stacey was always anxious to hear about the events and Jim's day, too.
One day, prior to Sarah Hughes winning her gold medal, her grandmother was not feeling well and was brought in to have her blood pressure checked, etc. He got to meet the whole family. Later the team took the grandmother up the ramp in a wheel chair to see Sarah, and then took her down afterward. "She was so excited that she could have floated down by herself," smiled Jim.
"We went downtown a couple of times and looked around, but the main action was where we were assigned," and that was really alright with both Jim and Pete.
Jim, back home, making a new porch on the home he and Stacey built together; back to work, getting a new business "Buggy Bargains" set up, is more than happy to remember and relate his Olympic adventure. "I was very privileged to have this opportunity," he says, "and to be picked to serve out of that many people."
It was "one of the best experiences I have had," says Pete. "It was awesome; just as the Olympic Committee stated 'A Once in a Lifetime Experience'!"