May 21—Last May, Mike Ragan felt chest pains that forced him to call an ambulance to treat him for a heart attack.
If he waited 20 more minutes, he probably wouldn't have made it.
"I was smart enough to realize what was happening and then call them," said Ragan, a resident of the East Side. "I had what was called the 'Widowmaker' heart attack. They said if I would have waited 20 more minutes, I wouldn't be around to talk to anybody."
On Monday, Ragan reunited with Ed Sparks, one of the emergency medical service professionals who saved his life. They talked about his story and the Marion County Rescue Squad, to kickoff National EMS Week, which began Sunday.
"He is one of a handful of saves that I've had in 41 years," Sparks said. "You call EMS early, in case if something happens, instead of driving yourself to the hospital."
The Marion County Rescue Squad recognized the celebratory week by holding an open house at its Fairmont base Monday. By inviting the public, workers hoped to give them an idea of not only what they do, but advice for how to handle certain health situations.
"It's for whenever we recognize our employees for their work with the community," said JoAnna McBee, public relations director for the Rescue Squad. "The reason that we organized an open house was so we could show them what's in our community and teach them something from each department. We have the fire department here, the police department, Fairmont Regional is here; each can teach them something that is a valuable skill or a life saving skill."
According to McBee, EMS Week is observed as somewhat of an appreciation week for emergency workers nationwide, and the Marion County Rescue Squad will be doing some activities for its workers during the week. However, on Monday, the appreciation extended to the community for being supporters of the Rescue Squad, and the work its staff performs.
"We are offering info like CPR, 'Stop the Bleed' and we also have a couple people that are alive because of us," McBee said. "We want to also get that message out to people as well, that people are alive because of our services."
People from the community showed their appreciation by visiting the squad and shared their stories, as was the case for Ragan. Others also had stories, like Annie Moore, who's son, Roek Moore, was saved by the Rescue Squad several years ago when he was one year old.
"He actually fell out of a grocery cart and hit his head, which happens a lot, but most kids don't end up with a skull fracture," Annie said. "They went above and beyond. They don't get enough recognition for how much they do save lives."
Annie and Roek attended the open house to advocate that parents buckle their kids in in all situations. Now 4 years old, Roek knows that this is a rule that should always be followed and what happens when rules are broken.
"I was crying and I was going to the doctor," Roek said.
These are the stories McBee said she hopes to spread through the community, to let others know what they should do in the event of an emergency. And although the workers of the squad are strangers to many, they work to serve everybody in the community.
"We're here for all situations," McBee said. "All of us, 100 percent of us are in this job because we care about our community and we care about saving lives and being there for strangers."
Ragan's appreciation for the Rescue Squad could not be understated, because his life was put in its workers' hands when he had his heart attack. He was happy to show some appreciation for the squad.
"If it wasn't for the EMS workers I wouldn't be here right now," Ragan said.