June 18, 2005
Hood River resident Sally Kamara sat down at her kitchen table to enjoy a late afternoon cup of coffee on May 3 — unaware that her life was in danger.
Just 30 minutes earlier, Kamara had ingested a new medicine prescribed by her doctor for an ongoing health condition. She was relaxing during the break in her routine when she suddenly began to feel sick.
Minutes later, she was forced to gasp for air and quickly discovered that her body was becoming paralyzed. Realizing that something was horribly wrong, Kamara slid out of her chair in a panic and wiggled across the floor toward the telephone.
It seemed to take forever to cross the linoleum and force her frozen fingers to dial 9-1-1. She managed to wheeze out a request for help to the dispatcher on the other end of the line.
And then Kamara began concentrating all of her energies on drawing a next breath while she waited for the emergency responders to arrive.
But that wait turned out to be less than three minutes. Kamara was surprised when her “heroes” burst through the front door so quickly to administer medical aid. And she was more than a little relieved when they stabilized her condition within the next 45 minutes with the use of oxygen and a saline intravenous drip.
She was then transported to Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital for a full evaluation and emerged a few hours later with no permanent physical problems.
Kamara said when the firefighters arrived, she immediately began to relax under their care and even dared to believe that all would be well.
“We are talking top-notch treatment here, top-notch. These guys could be in New York City, they are that good,” she said.
Kamara felt a strong need to personally thank Capt. Scott Tennant, Medic Clancy Cox and Medic Jay Geraci for their efforts on her behalf. She pursued the issue until Bob Francis, city manager, granted her a few minutes at Monday’s council meeting. The soft-spoken and shy Kamara found the words to praise her rescuers for their quick action on her behalf.
Following her remarks, the City Council awarded the trio with hats reserved for outstanding performance by a community member. They were also presented with a certificate of merit that will be put into their personnel records.
“As far as I know, there has not been another time in recent history where anybody in public service was actually honored like this,” Francis said.
He said most of the time, people are quick to speak out when something goes wrong — but seldom is anyone as motivated as Kamara to express thanks.
“I think this type of thing goes a long way when it comes to boosting morale,” he said.
Kamara believes that she is alive today because of the quick action taken by Tennant, Cox and Geraci. She said expending a little effort in return for her life has seemed like a small price to pay. And she feels much more relaxed now knowing that highly trained firefighters are on duty and ready to lend a hand at a moment’s notice.
“I’ve never had to call 9-1-1 before and I was in bad shape. It was just the right protocol to say thank you, that’s just what you do,” she said.