Doug receives a commendation for his role in a situation where CPR saved someone’s life. From left to right: Hopewell Township Deputy Mayor Allen Cannon, Doug Kabay, and Hopewell Township Mayor Vanessa Sandom.
Protect Hopewell Valley: Why did you decide to volunteer with Pennington First Aid?
Doug Kabay: When I was retiring, I talked to other people who had already retired, and they all mentioned that you need to stay active, because it is easy to feel disconnected once you retire. I had seen the signs on the road that Pennington First Aid needed volunteers, and one of the people I talked to was Kirk Schmitt, who is a long-time Pennington volunteer. I have an interest in medical science, and this would also enable me to contribute to the town, and stay active in retirement.
PHV: Why do you stick with it?
DK: It is a very satisfying activity. You help people. You get to know other people in the community in a way you didn’t before – for example the police and firefighters. And you feel that you are doing something worthwhile. I feel privileged to not have to work anymore, and working as an EMT and answering calls when people need help helps me feel like I’m paying some of that back.
PHV: Describe your most memorable moment as an EMT.
DK: We had a call for an accident on 95. A young, six-months-pregnant woman was changing lanes, and she was cut off, resulting in her rolling over. According to her, she rolled over three times. When we got there, she had been removed from the car and was lying on the side of the road.
The EMTs were there, fire was there – fire gets called whenever there’s an extrication possibility because someone is trapped – the paramedics were there, and the police were there. (Doug later noted that in addition to Pennington First Aid, first responders from Hopewell Valley Emergency Services, New Jersey State Police and Capital Health’s Mobile Intensive Care Units were all on-scene. HVES is a career, or paid, emergency service provider that supplements volunteer services in the Hopewell Valley. Capital Health’s paramedics are also paid.)
With that many people involved in anything, sometimes it is difficult to figure out who is going to do what, especially in a complicated situation. But what I remember so vividly is that everybody worked together so smoothly, and everybody contributed.
At first, the woman was very upset, she was scared and she was crying. But little by little as we worked and got her ready for transport and into ambulance, she started to calm down.
And little by little, this whole situation, which looked like it had the potential for a real tragedy, ended up working out really well. As we calmed her down, she started talking with us, and it turned out she was a really lively and quick-witted young woman. We got her into the ambulance and transported to the hospital, and what looked like it could have been a sad case ended up being a good rescue.
It was early in my career – the first year after I had been trained – and part of what made it so memorable was this feeling that everybody was doing the best they could and really pitching in to make things right for this young mother-to-be. It was this feeling that everybody was pulling together and pulling for her.
PHV: What has surprised you about volunteering as an EMT?
DK: The variety in the types of EMT organizations, and the fact that nobody knows what the First Aid Squads do. If you have a respiratory problem, and you live in Pennington, the Pennington First Aid Squad will come, but also the paramedics will come, because of the nature of the call. Paramedics are always associated with a hospital, and in Pennington, it is always Capital Health paramedics that respond. Most people have no idea that two different organizations are there. Paramedics perform certain medical procedures that EMTs are not permitted, by law, to provide. But paramedics never transport. It’s the EMT organization that transports. We’re volunteer, and in Pennington, we don’t charge for our services.
PHV: Any advice for those interested in becoming a volunteer EMT?
DK: If you’re interested in knowing more about how your community works in emergency situations, and if you have an interest in anything from biology to medical science, being an EMT is a rewarding activity. There’s quite a bit you can learn.