Help us thank first responders on Nov. 29

November 20, 2013 

If it weren’t for a team of first responders, Marian Lunka would not be alive today. She woke up for work on Oct. 9 and saw she was bleeding. She managed to call 9-1-1, and a team was at Lunka’s apartment within 10 minutes.

“I was going out, and they stopped it,” she said. “I owe everything to them. My life from here on.”

Lunka’s story is similar to others. First responders regularly answer the call to help. They save lives.

On Nov. 29, the Gateway will deliver notes of encouragement and food items to those who serve us at Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One headquarters, 10222 Bujacich Road NW. We’ve adopted the station for Thank You First Responders Day, and we’re asking readers to bring in notes and goodies for us to deliver next week.

Feel free to bring gifts, notes and goodies by the Gateway office, 3555 Erickson St., and we’ll make sure they get to the men and women who answer those harrowing 9-1-1 calls. Any food or baked treats should be stored in disposable dishware. Gifts should be small tokens of appreciation. Otherwise, they can’t accept them. All items must be received by noon Nov. 29. A small crew from the newspaper will celebrate with the first responders later in the day.

Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One has five stations that are staffed around the clock. It has personnel respond and transport patients who suffer from all types of medical emergencies, from minor to life-threatening. It currently has 18 paramedics and 60 emergency medical technicians on staff, plus 15 EMTs who are volunteers, according to the department’s website.

The fire district also has prevention and training programs. The prevention division includes classes and other opportunities, such as purchasing discounted children’s bicycle and multi-sport helmets “to help keep riders’ noggins safe.” The wearer must be present at either station headquarters or at Station 51 on Kimball Drive so fire district staffers can provide a custom fit.

Prevention also includes such services as car seat or fire inspections, burn permits or registering for a CPR/First Aid class, plus tips on water safety, how to make a survival kit and more.

Training includes a firefighter exercise that takes place each year to help others in the business learn how to perform tasks such as extracting patients from vehicles. It may sound like a gruesome task, but it sure is important when someone’s life depends on getting out of a bad situation and getting immediate medical attention.

In Lunka’s case, she’s alive today to because of the quick response she received after she called 9-1-1. It turns out, a tumor in her leg had ruptured, and her rate blood loss quickly could have resulted in her death.

Lunka said the team of responders took care of her, and they even let her call into work from the ambulance.

“They were so good. They were so caring. They were so professional,” she said.

No one plans to call for emergency help, but when the time comes, it’s usually not a good day. It’s a crisis, and first responders get there as quick as they can.

This month is a time to say thank you for the care and professionalism to which Lunka and others owe their lives.

Have you been helped?

Firefighters, police officers, Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies and state troopers don’t always get the recognition they deserve. If a first responder has helped you in a tough situation, we’d like to give you an opportunity to say thanks.

Write a letter to the editor up to 250 words about your situation and how you were helped, and we’ll print a few responses next Wednesday.

Our letters deadline is 5 p.m. Friday. The Gateway reserves the right to edit for style and content, as well as space constraints. Please email or mail it to: Letters to the Editor, 3555 Erickson St., Gig Harbor, WA 98335.

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